On the impact of self-clearing on electroactive polymer (EAP) actuators

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Electroactive polymer (EAP)-based actuators have large potential for a wide array of applications; however, their practical implementation is still a challenge because of the requirement of high driving voltage, which most often leads to premature defect-driven electrical breakdown. Polymer-based capacitors have the ability to clear defects with partial electrical breakdown and subsequent removal of a localized electrode section near the defect. In this study, this process, which is known as self-clearing, is adopted for EAP technologies. We report a methodical approach to self-clear an EAP, more specifically P(VDF-TrFE-CTFE) terpolymer, to delay premature defect-driven electrical breakdown of the terpolymer actuators at high operating electric fields. Breakdown results show that electrical breakdown strength is improved up to 18% in comparison to a control sample after self-clearing. Furthermore, the electromechanical performance in terms of blocked force and free displacement of P(VDF-TrFE-CTFE) terpolymer-based bending actuators are examined after self-clearing and precleared samples show improved blocked force, free displacement and maximum sustainable electric field compared to control samples. The study demonstrates that controlled self-clearing of EAPs improves the breakdown limit and reliability of the EAP actuators for practical applications without impeding their electromechanical performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105024
JournalSmart Materials and Structures
Issue number10
StatePublished - Sep 13 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Signal Processing
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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