Voltage tuning of the resonance frequency of electroactive polymer membranes over a range of 75%
We report on a novel technique to control the resonance frequency of polymer membranes, without additional external actuators. An electrostatic force is used to apply compressive stress to a dielectric electroactive polymers membrane, consisting of a 25 micron thick, 1 to 4 mm diameter, polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) film bonded onto patterned silicon or Pyrex wafers. Both sides of the membranes are rendered conductive by low-energy metal ion implantation. Ion implantation is chosen because it stiffens the membrane much less than sputtering a film of similar thickness. The initial resonance frequency of the membrane is given by its geometry, the Young’s modulus and stress of the composite film. The technique presented here allows tuning the resonance frequency from this initial value down to zero (at the buckling threshold) by adding compressive stress due to a voltage difference applied to the electrodes on both sides of the membrane. We have measured a reduction of the first mode resonance frequency of up to 77% (limited by dielectric breakdown) for ion-implanted membranes. The tuning is repeatable and allows for continuous variation. Excellent agreement was found between our measurements and an analytical model we developed based on the Rayleigh-Ritz theory.