Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Simple Polymer Moves With Electricity

Date:
July 1, 1998
Source:
Penn State
Summary:
A material originally developed for clear plastic bags may some day be used for artificial muscles, skin and organs that move like the real thing, according to a team of Penn State materials scientists.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Penn.--A material originally developed for clear plastic bags may some day be used for artificial muscles, skin and organs that move like the real thing, according to a team of Penn State materials scientists.

"This polymer is not new, but we can now alter it so it moves much more when an electric field is applied," says Dr. Qi-Ming Zhang, associate professor of electrical engineering and an associate at Penn State's Materials Research Laboratory. "The larger motion is an order of magnitude improvement in performance in acoustics, biomedical instrumentation and artificial organs possible."

Poly(vinylidene fluoride-trifluoroethylene) Copolymer was developed for sturdy, thin-film bags to store blood and other liquids. Researchers have long known that it has weak piezoelectric characteristics. When an electric voltage was placed on the film, the film moved, slightly. When pressure deformed the film, it produced electricity.

"As a piezoelectric material, this polymer was not very promising, the response was very small," says Zhang. "But as an electrostrictive material, the response is much larger and we can actually see it move under a voltage."

Electrostrictive materials are similar to piezoelectric materials, but are not polarized.

Zhang, working with Vivek Bharti and Xin Zhong Zhao, Penn State Postdoctoral Fellows, found a way to alter the polymer and create a material that moved 40 times more than some of the best known materials and is much easier and less expensive to manufacture.

Reporting in today's (June 26) issue of Science, the researchers explained how bombarding the material with electrons altered both the molecular conformation of the material and created new chemical bonds. We insert defects into the material and it becomes more compliant and flexible and has a higher dielectric constant, says Zhang.

Polymer materials consist of long chains that usually look like strands of spaghetti tangled around each other. The electron bombardment causes crosslinks to form between nearby strands and changes the molecular conformation. The altered material has a deformation rate under a high electric field of 4 percent or a 4-inch change for every 100 inches.

"This material is very sturdy, biologically neutral, can be molded in many shapes, is flexible and pliable," says Zhang. "Most electrostrictive materials are brittle ceramics that cannot move very far without breaking. Other known polymers can exhibit similar behavior, but they are very soft."

The flexibility, pliable and ease of manufacture of Poly(vinylidene fluoride-trifluoroethylene) Copolymer make it ideal for improved acoustic transducers for use in medical imaging equipment, underwater detectors and stereo speakers. Because of its high dielectric constant, the material could also be used for capacitors. In the long term, applications as artificial skin that senses touch, drug delivery systems, artificial muscles and organs may all be possible.

While easy to manufacture, pretreatment of the material does makes a difference. The initial material needed to be purer than that used to manufacture thin-film bags. The treatment temperature, annealing, quenching and whether or not the material was stretched also influenced the outcome.

"Eventually, we should be able to fine tune the properties over a large range of values to tailor the material to specific applications," says Zhang.

The researchers would also like to try working with strands or wires of the polymer in addition to thin films.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Penn State. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Penn State. "Simple Polymer Moves With Electricity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 July 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/07/980701082033.htm>.
Penn State. (1998, July 1). Simple Polymer Moves With Electricity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/07/980701082033.htm
Penn State. "Simple Polymer Moves With Electricity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/07/980701082033.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

AP (July 18, 2014) The Obama administration approved the use of sonic cannons to discover deposits under the ocean floor by shooting sound waves 100 times louder than a jet engine through waters shared by endangered whales and turtles. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Newsy (July 18, 2014) The wreckage of the German submarine U-166 has become clearly visible for the first time since it was discovered in 2001. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Reuters - US Online Video (July 17, 2014) President Barak Obama stopped by at a lunch counter in Delaware before making remarks about boosting the nation's infrastructure. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

TheStreet (July 16, 2014) Oil Futures are bouncing back after tumbling below $100 a barrel for the first time since May yesterday. Jeff Grossman is the president of BRG Brokerage and trades at the NYMEX. Grossman tells TheStreet the Middle East is always a concern for oil traders. Oil prices were pushed down in recent weeks on Libya increasing its production. Supply disruptions in Iraq fading also contributed to prices falling. News from China's economic front showing a growth for the second quarter also calmed fears on its slowdown. Jeff Grossman talks to TheStreet's Susannah Lee on this and more on the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration (EIA) report. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins