Artificial Muscle Technology
Agency / Branch:
DOD / NAVY
"Large-displacement actuators, which are light, resilient and low power, offer enabling technologies for high tech applications in the area of biological muscles. Electroactive Polymers are becoming practical for emulation of biological muscles thatallow the production of highly maneuverable, noiseless miniature robots for land or underwater operation. Smaller features that can be achieved using ink-jet printing will have a shorter response time. The use of ink-jet brings flexibility to themanufacturing process through its capabilities of generating structures with fine features and of depositing multiple layers, all from data files. This is applied in both the generation of the muscle itself and of the driving electrodes. In this project,we propose to develop the processes for ink-jet printing of electroactive polymers. The key issues addressed are related to the fabrication process (ink-jet deposition of polymer and electrode materials) and will demonstrate the ability to producefunctional muscles. The fabricated polymer actuators will be evaluated for various driving signals. Phase I technical objectives include development of the polymerizable solutions, optimization of the ink-jet devices and of their driving signal,identification and validation of an electrode generation process using ink-jet dispensing, and evaluation of the structures produced by ink-jet technology. The only electroactive polymer that is readily available in sheet form is the Nafion family. There is a steady stream of requests for commercial sources of electroactive polymers on the American Chemical Society polymer website, but there are no sources because the polymers must be formed in situ. Using the processes and systems developed under thisproject, MicroFab will supply equipment to build electroactive polymer structures for R&D operations at both Universities and other laboratories. MicroFab is a principal source of inkjet equipment for specialized applications outside the conventionalprinting businesses. Many possible soft electronic applications depend o
Small Business Information at Submission:
Research Institution Information:
Microfab Technologies, Inc.
1104 Summit Avenue, Suite 110 Plano, TX 75074
Number of Employees:
University of Arizona
DR. PAUL CALVERT, 4715 E. Fort Lowell Rd.
Tucson, AZ 85712
George L. Martinez
Nonprofit college or university