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The objectives of this research are to develop lightweight high-performance nanotube composite actuators that can be operated in open air and to study their actuation mechanisms. We successfully demonstrated solid electrolyte-based buckypaepr actuators. Long MWNT and dopped SWNT BP actuators showed significant improvement of actuation performance. A constitutive structure-stimulation-performance model has been developed to analyze and predict actuation performance. The modeling results can be further used to improve the actuation performance through parameter studies. Lightweight all-solid-state nanotube composite actuators developed in this research were a bimorph configuration with a high conductive solid electrolyte layer sandwiched by two nanotube buckypaper electrode layers. The effects of driving voltages and frequencies were studied. The nanotube buckypaper composite actuators demonstrated consistent responses to electrical stimulation frequencies up to 40 Hz. Different types of nanotube buckypapers were tested to determine their actuation performance, including randomly dispersed single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNT), aligned SWNT, randomly dispersed multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWNT), randomly dispersed long MWNT and SWNT-MWNT mixed nanotube buckypapers. Dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) and tensile tests were conducted to determine actuator mechanical properties. A Young's modulus of 2.17 GPa from long MWNT buckypaper composite actuator was one of the highest reported values among electro-active polymer composite actuators. The research also realized significant performance improvements by using long MWNT nanotube buckypapers and lithium ion doped SWNT buckypapers as electrode layers. The resultant actuators can achieve more than 20 mm displacements, which is about 10 times greater than untreated SWNT buckypaper composite actuators. Ionic doped SWNT buckypaper actuators are especially promising because they consume 70% less power to perform the same amount of actuation compared to long MWNT buckypaper actuators. The maximum strain and blocking force of the long MWNT BP composite actuators were 0.77% and 8.7 mN, respectively. The research indicated two actuation mechanisms of nanotube buckypaper actuators co-exist: 1) carbon-carbon (C-C) bond extensions when an electrical charge applied, as previously reported in the literature, and 2) an ionic current flow effect in the solid electrolytes. The developed structure-stimulation-performance model was able to predict the displacement of nanotube buckypaper actuators based on both mechanisms. Modeling results indicate that ionic current flow effect was the dominant effect in the devices. By conducting parameter studies, we can reveal the influential factors for actuation performance. The modeling results for the SWNT BP/Nafion actuator were in good agreement with experimental data. The resultant actuators are promising for lightweight morphing structure applications.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Zhiyong Liang, Professor Directing Dissertation; William Oates, University Representative; Ben Wang, Committee Member; Chuck Zhang, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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