MRS Bulletin

Technical Feature

Technical Feature

Physical Principles of Ionic Polymer–Metal Composites as Electroactive Actuators and Sensors

Il-Seok Park, Kwangmok Jung, Doyeon Kim, Sang-Mun Kim and Kwang J. Kim

Abstract

This article introduces and considers the fundamental understanding of ionic polymer–metal composites (IPMCs) functioning as electroactive actuators and sensors. IPMCs consist of ion-exchange polymers acting as base materials and metal layers functioning as electrodes. The actuation and sensing abilities of IPMCs are dependent upon the components of ion-exchange polymers (ionic groups and cations) and electrode materials. In order to improve the bending and sensing performance of the IPMCs, an integral, two-step electroplating technique and a requisite dispersion agent are used during fabrication. Electroding materials also play a key role in determining the properties of IPMCs, and numerous methods in electroding have been tried, making use of various metals, carbon nanotubes, and composites. So far, IPMCs have been adapted as robotic actuators, artificial muscles, and electrical sensors. In the future, it is expected that IPMCs will broadly spread their roles from small-sized biomedical devices to large-scale actuators for aerospace as well as many industrial applications.

Il-Seok Park is a postdoctoral research scholar in the Active Materials and Processing Laboratory at the University of Nevada.

Park received his PhD degree in ceramic engineering from Yonsei University, South Korea, in 2005, and his MS and BS degrees in aviation materials engineering from Korea Aerospace University in 1997 and 1995, respectively. His research experience includes an internship and a student researcher position at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology.

He has published 38 technical papers and holds five Korean patents with two pending. Park's research is based in biomaterials (all-ceramic dental crowns, artificial hip joints, and ceramic implants) and electronic components. His current research interests are -muscle materials and hydrogen energy systems.

Park can be reached at the Mechanical Engineering Department, University of Nevada, Reno, Reno, NV 89577 USA; e-mail ilseok@unr.edu.

Kwangmok Jung is a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno.

He received his BS, MS, and PhD degrees in mechanical engineering from Sungkyunkwan University, Korea, in 1991, 2002, and 2006, respectively. Jung worked for Daewoo Motor Company from 1995 to 1999. Afterward, he joined the Intelligent Microsystem Research Center in Korea.

Jung is actively working in the areas of elec-troactive polymer actuators and sensors. His current research interests focus on artificial muscle actuators and sensors, microrobots, and biomechatronics.

Jung can be reached by e-mail at kwangj@unr.edu.

Doyeon Kim is a principal engineer at FormFactor Inc. in Livermore, California. He received his BS and MS degrees in chemical engineering from Inha University in Korea, and his PhD degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Nevada, Reno.

Kim's main research interests include electrochemical analysis and metallization for various applications. He also has five years of industrial experience, specializing in electrochemistry.

Kim can be reached at FormFactor Inc., 7005 SouthFront Rd., Livermore, CA 94551 USA; tel. 925-290-4000.

Sang-Mun Kim is a doctoral student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Kim received his MS degree in ceramic engineering at Yonsei University in 2004 and his BS degree in materials science and engineering at Kunsan National University in 2001. He worked as a student researcher on optical thin-film materials, including a 3D electromagnetic simulation based on semiconducting processes at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology.

Kim's current research interests at the Materials and Processing Laboratory include development and applications of electroactive-polymer-based artificial-muscle-driven biorobotic actuators.

Kim can be reached at the Mechanical Engineering Department, University of Nevada, Reno, Reno, NV 89577 USA; e-mail kims42@unr.nevada.edu.

Kwang J. Kim is professor and chair of the Mechanical Engineering Department and director of both the Active Materials and Processing Laboratory and the Advanced Energy Laboratory at the University of Nevada, Reno.

He graduated from Yonsei University, South Korea, in 1987 and received his MS and PhD degrees from Arizona State University in 1989 and 1992, respectively. Afterward, Kim completed his postdoctoral study at the University of Maryland.

Kim was a senior research engineer at Thermal Electric Devices Inc. from 1995 to 1997 and chief scientist at Environmental Robots Inc. in Albuquerque, N.M., from 1997 to 2001. He was also an adjunct professor at the University of New Mexico from 1996 to 2001. He joined UNR as an assistant professor in 2001, becoming a full professor in 2007.

Kim's research interests are in a broad spectrum of active materials, sensors, and renewable energy systems. He has authored and co-authored more than 200 technical papers, including over 90 refereed journal papers and two books. Kim also holds one U.S. patent.

He is a recipient of the 2006 UNR Lemelson Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the 2002 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award from Oak Ridge Associated Universities, and a co-recipient of the 1997 Best Paper Award from ASME/Advanced Energy Systems/HPTC.

Kim can be reached at the Mechanical Engineering Department, MS 312, University of Nevada, Reno, Reno, NV 89577 USA; tel. 775-784-7522 and e-mail kwangkim@unr.edu.

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