Technology Transfer SSC Pacific
Electroactive Polymer (EAP) Biaxial Braid

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The U.S. Navy seeks to commercialize U.S. Patent 7,193,350 (Electroactive polymer structure).

The Technology

Electroactive polymers (EAPs) are polymers that change shape when voltage is applied. Current EAP structures are bulky, heavy, and have poor flexibility and local shape control. SSC Pacific has developed an EAP structure that has decreased bulk and mass, and increased flexibility and local shape control. By braiding multiple EAP segments and controlling which segment current is applied, as well as the direction of the current, the movement and shape of the structure can be controlled. For example, applying a current in the same direction to two over-lapping segments will create a rigid area; whereas applying opposite current creates a hump or dip. By adjusting the direction, timing, and voltage to an EAP structure, a multitude of shapes and movements are possible.


EAPs can be used as actuators, sensors, or power generating devices. Applications include: artificial muscles; biaxial braids and snakes; braided spheres, discs, regulators (artificial sphincter), and peristaltic pumps (artificial heart, esophagus, colon); and braided, locally controlled bladders. EAPs can perform the following actions:

  • Position and guide components
  • Change mechanical properties of devices
  • Alter surface properties of devices
  • Release or hold objects
  • Anchor or fix the position of device
  • Unfold or contract components
  • Block or open functions
  • Key Benefits

  • The structure can cooperatively generate forces on three dimensions, whereas individual strands can only exert force in one direction
  • Biaxial braids are light and can replace heavy machinery and parts
  • Shapes can be woven to create necessary structures depending on application (cylinder, sphere, blanket, box, etc.), which allows for snake-like movements to climb or swim
  • The technology enables scalability for large-and small-scale devices
  • Can be used in unconventional settings, such as at deep sea levels
  • Development Status

  • U.S. Patent issued: 7,193,350
  • DoD 5000 Series Technology Readiness Level 2: Technology concept and/or application formulated
  • For more information on technology transfer, please contact us at (619) 5535118 or email
    SD 768, October 2007. SSC Pacific, San Diego, CA 921525001. Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.

    SSC Pacific
    Updated: 11/8/2011 2:36 PM EST   Published