The U.S. Navy seeks to commercialize U.S. Patent 7,193,350 (Electroactive polymer structure).
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:
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- SD 768, October 2007. SSC Pacific, San Diego, CA 92152–5001. Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.