Conference paper

Miniaturized EAPs with compliant electrodes fabricated by ion implantation

Miniaturizing dielectric electroactive polymer (EAP) actuators will lead to highly-integrated mechanical systems on a chip, combining dozens to thousands of actuators and sensors on a few cm2. We present here µm to mm scale electroactive polymer (EAP) devices, batch fabricated on the chip or wafer scale, based on ion-implanted electrodes. Low-energy (2-10 keV) implantation of gold ions into a silicone elastomer leads to compliant stretchable electrodes consisting of a buried 20 nm thick layer of gold nanoparticles in a silicone matrix. These electrodes: 1) conduct at strains up to 175%, 2) are patternable on the µm scale, 3) have stiffness similar to silicone, 4) have good conductivity, and 5) excellent adhesion since implanted in the silicone. The EAP devices consist of 20 to 30 µm thick silicone membranes with µm to mm-scale ion-implanted electrodes on both sides, bonded to a holder. Depending on electrode shape and membrane size, several actuation modes are possible. Characterization of 3mm diameter bi-directional buckling mode actuators, mm-scale tunable lens arrays, 2-axis beam steering mirrors, as well as arrays of 72 cell-size (100x200 µm2) actuators to apply mechanical strain to single cells are reported. Speeds of up to several kHz are observed.

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