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Polymer MEMS actuators for underwater micromanipulation

By: Lai, K.W.C.; To, T.K.H.; Ho-Yin Chan; Zhou, J.W.L.; Li, W.J.;

2004 / IEEE


This item was taken from the IEEE Periodical ' Polymer MEMS actuators for underwater micromanipulation ' Conventional MEMS actuators are not suitable for underwater applications such as cell grasping due to two main reasons: 1) their required actuation voltage are typically higher than 2 V, which would cause electrolysis in water and 2) they have small displacement/deflection due to their inherent driving principles. In this paper, three-different types of novel polymer-based MEMS underwater actuators developed in our laboratory are discussed: 1) ionic conducting polymer films (ICPF) actuator, which actuates by stress gradient induced by ionic movement due to electric field; 2) parylene thermal actuator, which actuates due to the induced stress gradient across a structure made of different layers of materials with different thermal expansion coefficients; and 3) polyaniline (PANI) actuator, which actuates due to its volumetric change caused by a reversible electrochemical oxidation-reduction (redox) reaction. All these polymer micro actuators can be actuated underwater with large deflections and require less power input than conventional MEMS actuators. The experimental results from characterizing these prototype actuators are presented in this paper.