Nanomechanical and electrical characterization of a new cellular electret sensor–actuator

Windmill, J.F.C. and Zorab, A. and Bedwell, D. and Robert, D. (2008) Nanomechanical and electrical characterization of a new cellular electret sensor–actuator. Nanotechnology, 19 (3). 035506. ISSN 0957-4484

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Abstract

Electrically charged cellular polymers are known to display pseudo-piezoelectric effects that endow them with interesting mechano-electrical characteristics. When a film of such a polymer is compressed, charge is generated across its thickness, and conversely, applying an oscillatory or static potential elicits mechanical motions. This dual sensor-actuator behaviour can be embedded in one material and presents distinct advantages of functional integration. A novel electroactive foam is presented here that embeds such a sensor-actuator function. The foam has a sensitivity constant (d33) of 330 pC N−1. Interestingly, the resonant behaviour of the cellular film can be altered by variation in the DC offset across the material. Such adaptive capacity could be of great advantage for tuning polymer-based mechanical devices to be either efficient sound radiators and mechanical actuators, or sensitive and coherent sensors. Possible applications in microfluidics are also discussed.