High-Performance, Monolithic Polyaniline Electrochemical Actuators


  • The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support of the Cross Enterprise Technology Development Program of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).


New polyaniline (PANI) asymmetric membranes were fabricated using a phase-inversion technique with hexane as the coagulation bath. These membranes exhibit a dense structure with macrovoids distributed asymmetrically throughout the cross-section. A stress–strain study demonstrated that the Young's modulus (1.421 GPa) and strain at break (7.6 %) of the new PANI asymmetric membranes prepared from hexane are approximately 12 and 4 times higher, respectively, than the values reported previously for the PANI integrally skinned asymmetric membranes (ISAMs) (123 MPa Young's modulus and 1.8 % strain at break). Furthermore, monolithic electrochemical actuators based on a single PANI asymmetric membrane were constructed, and a bending movement of up to 20 Hz was experimentally recorded in a hydrochloric acid aqueous solution. A lifetime of over 329 500 cycles was determined for these actuators at a ± 2° angular displacement (5 Hz). The lifetime is limited by a bending fatigue that creates a transversal crack on the PANI membrane at the air–water interface. Control over the actuator movement is also manifested by the linear dependences of the bending angle on the charge and of the angular velocity on the current. These relationships are independent of both the kind of applied electric signal and the frequency used.