Journal article

Enhancement of actuation ability of ionic-type conducting polymer actuators using metal ion implantation

In this study, we present the results and implications of an experimental study into the effect of gold-ion implantation on the actuation performance of ionic-type conducting polymer actuators, represented here by cantilevered tri-layer polypyrrole (PPy) actuators. We implant gold ions beneath the outer surfaces of PPy-based conducting polymer layers of the actuators in order to increase the conductivity of these layers, and therefore improve the overall conductivity of the actuators. A Filtered Vacuum Cathode Arc (FVCA) ion source was used to implant gold particles into the conducting polymer layers. Electrode resistance and capacitance, surface resistance, current response, mechanical work output of the actuator samples were measured and/or calculated for the actuator samples with and without gold implantation in order to demonstrate the effect of the gold-implantation. The current passing through the conducting polymer electrodes during their ‘electrochemomechanical’ actuation was measured to determine the charging time constant of the actuators. The mechanical displacement output of the actuators was recorded. The results demonstrate that the conductivity of the actuators increases noticeably, which has a flow on effect on the current response (i.e., charge injected into the polymer layers) and the mechanical work output. While the gold implanted actuators had a higher mechanical stiffness therefore a smaller displacement output, their time constant is smaller, indicating a higher response speed. The gold-implanted actuators generated a 15% higher mechanical work output despite the adverse effects on the polymer of the vacuum processing needed for the ion implantation.

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