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Single wall Carbon Nanotube Optical Actuators: Towards Optical Artificial Muscles

S. Lu and B. Panchapakesan
University of Delaware, US

Keywords:
actuator, carbon nanotube, acrylic elastomer, optical actuation

Abstract:
The direct conversion of electrical energy to mechanical energy has been realized by various types of actuation technologies. But the direct conversion of optical energy to mechanical energy is rarely touched to date. Here we present a new type of actuator made from acrylic elastomer-single wall carbon nanotube bimorph structure, which actuates when optical stimulus is present. The maximum strain of 0.24% was acquired under the exposure of white light of 80mW/cm2. The strain response versus different photon energy and different exposure intensity were also addressed. We believe that the actuation is due to the thermal expansion of acrylic elastomer caused by light absorption of single wall carbon nanotubes and subsequent transfer of optical energy to thermal energy which in turn causes actuation.

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