Environmentally friendly carrageenan-based ionic-liquid driven soft actuators†
A naturally derived polymer based on iota carrageenan and different ammonium and imidazolium based ionic liquids (ILs) are used for the development of environmentally friendly soft actuators. The influence of IL content and type and solvent evaporation temperature on the morphological and physico-chemical properties of the materials was evaluated, together with the effect on actuator functional response. Independently of the IL content and type, and the solvent evaporation temperature, a non-porous structure is obtained. The incorporation of the IL within the polymer matrix does not affect the thermal stability but leads to a decrease in the Young modulus for the different IL/carrageenan samples. The highest influence was observed by using the [Ch][DHP] IL at a filler content of 40% w/w with a decrease in the Young modulus from 748 MPa for the neat polymer to 145 MPa for the [Ch][DHP]/carrageenan sample. Furthermore, the ionic conductivity of the samples increases with increasing IL content, with the highest values being 2.9 × 10−6 S cm−1 and 1.2 × 10−6 S cm−1 for the samples with 40% w/w of [Bmim][FeCl4] and [Ch][DHP], respectively. Regarding the soft actuator performance, the maximum displacement was obtained for the [Ch][DHP]/carrageenan sample with an IL content of 40% w/w, showing a maximum displacement of 5.8 mm at a DC applied voltage of 9 V.