High-bendable, air-operable ionic polymer-metal composite (IPMC) actuators composed of electroactive nanostructured middle-block sulfonated styrenic pentablock copolymer (SSPB)/sulfonated montmorillonite (s-MMT) nanocomposite electrolyte membranes with bulky imidazolium ionic liquids (ILs) incorporated were fabricated and their bending actuation performances were evaluated. The SSPB-based IPMC actuators showed larger air-operable bending displacements, higher displacement rates, and higher energy efficiency of actuations without conventional IPMC bottlenecks, including back relaxation and actuation instability during actuation in air, than the Nafion counterpart. Incorporation of s-MMT into the SSPB matrix further enhanced the actuation performance of the IPMC actuators in terms of displacement, displacement rate, and energy efficiency. The remarkably high performance of the SSPB/s-MMT/IL IPMCs was considered to be due to the microphase-separated large ionic domains of the SSPB (the average diameter of the ionic domain: ca. 20 nm) and the role of s-MMT as an ionic bridge between the ionic domains, and the ion pumping effect of the bulky imidazolium cations of the ILs as well. The microphase-separated nanostructure of the composite membranes caused a high dimensional stability upon swelling in the presence of ILs, which effectively preserved the original electrode resistance against swelling, leading to a high actuation performance of IPMC.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)