Actuators Based on Photomechanical Polymer
LaQuieta Huey*, Sergey S. Sarkisov**, Michael J. Curley*,
and Grigory Adamovsky***
*Department of Physics, Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University, Normal, Alabama 35762, USA
**SSS Optical Technologies, LLC, Huntsville, Alabama 35816, USA
***NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio 44135, USA
New light-driven actuators based on films of polymer polyvinylidene fluoride are described. The actuators employ the photomechanical bending of the polymer film caused by low power (10mW and less) laser radiation. The photomechanical effect combines various physical mechanisms, such as anisotropic thermal expansion, converse piezoelectric mechanism along with photovoltaic and pyroelectric ones, while the mechanism of thermal expansion is dominant for slow motion. Mechanical vibrations of the strips of the photomechanical polymer were observed with periodic pulsed laser excitation. The resonance frequency is inversely proportional to the square of the length of the strip, in full agreement with the theory. Resonance frequency measurements were used to determine the modulus of elasticity of the films, which was close to 3.0×109Pa. Two possible applications were discussed: photonic switch and adaptive mirror. The proposed actuators have a potential of being used as the components of future light-driven micro/nano systems.
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