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Article

Improving the Actuation Speed and Multi-Cyclic Actuation Characteristics of Silicone/Ethanol Soft Actuators

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Columbia University in the City of New York, 500 W 120th St., Mudd 220, New York, NY 10027, USA
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Co-first authors.
Actuators 2020, 9(3), 62; https://doi.org/10.3390/act9030062
Received: 27 June 2020 / Revised: 17 July 2020 / Accepted: 27 July 2020 / Published: 28 July 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers to Celebrate the SCIE Coverage)
The actuation of silicone/ethanol soft composite material-actuators is based on the phase change of ethanol upon heating, followed by the expansion of the whole composite, exhibiting high actuation stress and strain. However, the low thermal conductivity of silicone rubber hinders uniform heating throughout the material, creating overheated damaged areas in the silicone matrix and accelerating ethanol evaporation. This limits the actuation speed and the total number of operation cycles of these thermally-driven soft actuators. In this paper, we showed that adding 8 wt.% of diamond nanoparticle-based thermally conductive filler increases the thermal conductivity (from 0.190 W/mK to 0.212 W/mK), actuation speed and amount of operation cycles of silicone/ethanol actuators, while not affecting the mechanical properties. We performed multi-cyclic actuation tests and showed that the faster and longer operation of 8 wt.% filler material-actuators allows collecting enough reliable data for computational methods to model further actuation behavior. We successfully implemented a long short-term memory (LSTM) neural network model to predict the actuation force exerted in a uniform multi-cyclic actuation experiment. This work paves the way for a broader implementation of soft thermally-driven actuators in various robotic applications. View Full-Text
Keywords: soft actuator; silicone/ethanol; actuation speed; thermal conductivity; multi-cyclic actuation; mechanical properties; performance prediction; machine learning; neural networks soft actuator; silicone/ethanol; actuation speed; thermal conductivity; multi-cyclic actuation; mechanical properties; performance prediction; machine learning; neural networks
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MDPI and ACS Style

Xia, B.; Miriyev, A.; Trujillo, C.; Chen, N.; Cartolano, M.; Vartak, S.; Lipson, H. Improving the Actuation Speed and Multi-Cyclic Actuation Characteristics of Silicone/Ethanol Soft Actuators. Actuators 2020, 9, 62. https://doi.org/10.3390/act9030062

AMA Style

Xia B, Miriyev A, Trujillo C, Chen N, Cartolano M, Vartak S, Lipson H. Improving the Actuation Speed and Multi-Cyclic Actuation Characteristics of Silicone/Ethanol Soft Actuators. Actuators. 2020; 9(3):62. https://doi.org/10.3390/act9030062

Chicago/Turabian Style

Xia, Boxi; Miriyev, Aslan; Trujillo, Cesar; Chen, Neil; Cartolano, Mark; Vartak, Shivaniprashant; Lipson, Hod. 2020. "Improving the Actuation Speed and Multi-Cyclic Actuation Characteristics of Silicone/Ethanol Soft Actuators" Actuators 9, no. 3: 62. https://doi.org/10.3390/act9030062

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