Recent advances, aimed at realization of specific functionalities of materials beyond their traditional counterparts, have made intelligent soft active materials quite an enticing prospect. Such materials have found applications in various highly functional devices including microfluidic and bioengineering systems. For such materials, all the actuation methods have their own outstanding advantages for the realization of active control in varying conditions. Magnetoactive elastomer, a novel class of materials with magnetic particles dispersed in a soft elastomer matrix, is an ideal candidate for magnetic manipulation. More so, it possesses desirable mechanical properties which diversify its applicability.
More interestingly, unlike the traditional magnetoactive elastomer, magnetoactive elastomer film shows excellent flexibility. This superiority can be exploited for creating multifunctional actuators in complex environments due to the fact that they can undergo intense deformation under the small force induced by the magnetic field. However, the deformation of the actuator is difficult to be measured. Fortunately, poly (vinylidene fluoride) happens to be an exceptional component to realize the real-time measurement of deformation due to its excellent piezoelectricity and flexoelectricity. The combination of magnetoactive elastomer and poly (vinylidene fluoride) film has recently shown promising prospects in artificial robotics and intelligent control. This work therefore seeks to report on a polymer composite actuator with both magnetic actuation and real-time deformation detecting.
University of Science and Technology of China researchers developed a high performance flexible magnetically controllable actuator by combining magnetoactive elastomer and poly (vinylidene fluoride) film. The researchers systematically investigated the magnetic-mechanic-electric coupling properties of the actuator by cyclical wrinkle, magnetic bending and stretching test. Their work is now published in the research journal, Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing.
Briefly, the research team began by systematically studying the magnetic-mechanic-electric coupling properties of the composite. Magnetic bending and stretching tests were then implemented to study the bending and stretching consequence of the actuator at the presence of a magnetic field. The magnetically induced force, deflection and charge were later comprehensively studied. The pure bending effect was obtained by subtracting the stretching effect from bending effect.
The research team observed that the actuator demonstrated high mechanic strength, good magnetic sensitivity and excellent flexoelectricity. They also noted that the induced charge showed excellent repeatability which increased with bending angle. To prove their results, the research team proposed a novel model in which the linear dependence between induced charge and bending angle was demonstrated. The model was observed to be in good agreement with the experimental results therefore proving that it is accurate and can be used to measure the real-time deformation of the actuator.
The study has introduced a magnetically sensitive and controllable actuator consisting of magnetoactive elastomer and poly (vinylidene fluoride) film. The magnetic-mechanic-electric coupling properties of the actuator have been systematically investigated. The results obtained have shown that the actuator exhibits excellent repeatability property. Therefore, this universal programming can enable engineers and scientists to design magnetically controllable and flexible actuators. This kind of actuators can find wide applications in engineering, artificial robotics, and biomedicine.
Jiabin Feng, Shouhu Xuan, Li Ding, Xinglong Gong. Magnetoactive elastomer/PVDF composite film based magnetically controllable actuator with real-time deformation feedback property. Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing, volume 103 (2017) pages 25–34.
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