Challenges to the transition to the practical application of IPMC as artificial-muscle actuators

Y. Bar-Cohen, S. Leary, A. Yavrouian, K. Oguro, S. Tadokoro, J. Harrison, J. Smith, J. Su

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


In recent years, electroactive polymers (EAP) materials have gained recognition as potential actuators with unique capabilities having the closest performance resemblance to biological muscles. Ion-exchange membrane metallic composites (IPMC) are one of the EAP materials with such a potential. The strong bending that is induced by IPMC offers attractive actuation for the construction of various mechanisms. Examples of applications that were conceived and investigated for planetary tasks include a gripper and wiper. The development of the wiper for dust removal from the window of a miniature rover, planned for launch to an asteroid, is the subject of this reported study. The application of EAP in space conditions is posing great challenge due to the harsh operating conditions that are involved and the critical need for robustness and durability. The various issues that can affect the application of IPMC were examined including operation in vacuum, low temperatures, and the effect of the electromechanical and ionic characteristics of IPMC on its actuation capability. The authors introduced highly efficient IPMC materials, mechanical modeling, unique elements and protective coatings in an effort to enhance the applicability of IPMC as an actuator of a planetary dust-wiper. Results showed that the IPMC technology is not ready yet for practical implementation due to residual deformation that is introduced under DC activation and the difficulty to protect the material ionic content over the needed 3-years durability. Further studies are under way to overcome these obstacles and other EAP materials are also being considered as alternative bending actuators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-20
Number of pages8
JournalMaterials Research Society Symposium Proceedings
Publication statusPublished - 2000
EventThe 1999 MRS Fall Meeting- Symposium Electroactive Polymers - Boston, MA, USA
Duration: 1999 Dec 29 → …


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