Scientific and technological development is linked, among other things, to the search for increasingly weightless, cheaper and more durable functional materials. In addition, there is, due to the growing concern with the environment, the appeal for green technological solutions, that is, of low environmental impact. In this sense, bioinspiration can be a means of achieving such goals simply and efficiently. Regarding to bio-mimicry technologies, the natural muscles have long been the most targeted actuators as a source of inspiration, mainly because of their particular combination of speed, tension, pressure, low density and high efficiency. Some of these properties are inherent to electroactive polymers, being good candidates for artificial actuators. Among the devices based on this class of materials, the ionic polymer/metal composites are the most studied for application as actuators, because of their versatility, low weight and possibility of great deformation with low energy consumption. In addition, they can operate in drastic situations, making them very promising even for aerospace application. Although its application is extensive, there are a number of problems that need to be solved yet, which can be mentioned the use of noble metals as electrodes and, consequently, high price; the low operating longevity and the efficiency and durability dependent on the ambient conditions, especially the relative humidity of the air. In this context, the present project aims to research new technologies capable of solving the major problems that hinder the greater industrial application of these actuators. Strategies for this include replacing the metal electrodes with conductive rubbers based on styrene-butadiene random copolymer matrices and advanced carbon compounds as conductive additives and incorporating ionic liquid as device electrolyte, reducing dependence on environmental conditions. In addition, it is intended to increment both ion transport mechanisms and reliable electromechanical models. For this purpose, electrochemical, rheological and mechanical characterization will be required. In addition, mechanical-quantum simulations will be used for a more complete study of device behavior.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: