Ionic Electrochemical Actuators
Ionic electroactive polymer (iEAP) actuators with ionic liquid (IL) electrolytes are distinguished by their ability to operate in ambient air with an enhanced lifetime. This chapter reports the developments in iEAP actuator technologies for several applications, with a particular focus on the use of conducting polymers (CPs). CPs have attracted attention because of their promising electronic, optical and electromechanical properties. These smart materials are characterized by their possible dimensional changes due to the migration or diffusion of ions upon electrochemical oxidation or reduction processes. In an adequate ionic conducting medium, CPs can be used as the active component in actuators and lead to interesting potential applications, including soft robotics, prosthetic devices, microsystems and medical devices. This chapter starts with an overview of existing iEAP actuators. CP actuation mechanisms and configurations are explained in detail, and existing and potential applications are discussed, emphasizing the benefits of using ionic liquids (high ionic conductivity, non-volatility, larger electrochemical window and biocompatibility). Finally, to conclude, the future developments and challenges in this area are discussed.