Toward Conductive Polymer-Based Soft Milli-Robots for Vacuum Applications


For the last two decades, the development of conducting polymers (CP) as artificial muscles, by materials researchers and chemists, has made establishing a reliable and repeatable synthesis of such materials possible. CP-based milli-robots were mostly unknown in soft robotics, however, today, they play a vital role in robotics and smart materials forums. Indeed, this subclass of soft robots has reached a crucial moment in their history, a moment where they can display rather interesting features, based on established foundations in terms of modeling, control, sensing, and planning in various applications. The purpose of this paper is to present the potential of conductive polymer-based soft milli-robots as high-performance devices for vacuum applications. To that end, a trilayer polypyrrole-based actuator was first used inside a scanning electron microscope (SEM), characterized for different applied voltages, over a relatively long period. Additionally, the tip positioning of the cantilever was also controlled using a closed-loop control. Furthermore, as a proof of concept for more complex soft milli-robots, an S-shaped soft milli-robot was modeled, using a hybrid model comprised of two models; a multi-physics model and a kinematic model. It was then fabricated using laser machining and finally characterized using its tip displacement. polypyrrole-based soft milli-robots proved to have tremendous potential as high-performance soft robots at the microscale for a wide range of applications, including SEM micro-manipulation as well as biomedical applications.

Source: frontier

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