Polymer-based actuators: back to the future
Polymer-based actuators play a key role in the area of smart materials and devices, and for this reason different polymer-based actuators have appeared in recent years and are implemented in a broad range of fields, including biomedical, optical or electronics, among others. Although it is possible to find more types, they are mainly classified into two main groups according to their different working principles: electromechanical – with electrical to mechanical energy conversion – and magnetomechanical – with magnetic to mechanical energy conversion. The present work provides a comprehensive and critical review of the recent studies in this field. The operating principles, some representative designs, performance analyses and practical applications will be presented. The future development perspectives of this interesting field will be also discussed. Thus, the present work provides a comprehensive understanding of the effects reported in the past, introduces solutions to the present limitations and, back to the future, serves as a useful guidance for the design of new polymer-based actuators aiming to improve their output performances.