On 26 August at 14:15 Sunjai Nakshatharan Shanmugam will defend her doctoral thesis „Electromechanical modelling and control of ionic electroactive polymer actuators“ .
Professor of Polymeric Materials Alvo Aabloo, PhD, University of Tartu
Senior Research Fellow in Engineering Sciences, Andres Punning, PhD, University of Tartu
Associate Professor and Assistant Provost, PhD Barbar Akle, PhD, Lebanese American University School of Engineering, Lebanon
Ionic electroactive polymers (IEAPs) actuators are kind of smart composite materials that have the ability to convert electrical energy into mechanical energy. The actuators fabricated using IEAP materials will benefit from attractive features such as high compliance, lightweight, large strain, low voltage, biocompatibility, high force to weight ratio, and ability to operate in an aqueous environment as well as in open air. The future of soft robotic actuation system with IEAP actuators is very promising especially in the microdomain for cutting edge applications such as micromanipulation systems, medical devices with higher dexterity, soft catheters with built-in actuation, bio-inspired robotics with better-mimicking properties and active compliant micromechanisms. This dissertation has introduced an effective modelling framework representing the complex electro-chemo-mechanical dynamics that can predict the electromechanical transduction in this kind of actuators. The model describes the ion transport dynamics under electric field by combining the Nernst-Planck and Poisson’s equation and the mechanical response is associated with the volumetric swelling caused by resulting charge and mass balance. The framework of this modelling method to predict the behavior of the actuator enabled to design, simulate and optimize compliant mechanism using IEAP actuators. As a result, a novel parallel manipulator with three degrees of freedom was modelled and fabricated with two different types of electrode materials and is characterized and compared with the simulation model. It is shown that the developed model was able to predict the behavior of the manipulator with a good agreement ensuring the high fidelity of the modelling framework. In the process of the fabrication, it is found that the manipulator fabricated through additive manufacturing method allows to fabricate multipart and intricate patterns with high through put production capability and also opens the opportunity to print a matrix array of identical actuators over a wide size scale along with improved performance.
Finally, to showcase the competence of the printed manipulator two different control application was demonstrated. At first, an open loop four-way optical switch showing the capability of optically triggering four switches in the X-Y plane in an automated sequence is shown followed by closed-loop micromanipulation of an active microscope stage using model predictive control system architecture is shown. The application of the manipulator can be extended to other potential applications such as a zoom lens, a microscope stage, laser steering, autofocusing systems, and micromirror. Overall this dissertation results in modelling, fabrication, and control of ionic electroactive polymer actuators leading to the development of a low cost, monolithic, flat, multi DOF parallel manipulator for micromanipulation application.