Mechanical and electrochemical properties of an IPMC actuator with palladium electrodes in acid and alkaline solutions

Wataru Aoyagi, Masaki Omiya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


An ionic polymer-metal composite (IPMC) actuator, which consists of a thin perfluorinated ionomer membrane and electrodes plated on both surfaces, undergoes a large bending motion when a low electric field is applied across its thickness. IPMC actuators are lightweight and soft and can operate in solutions. They are thus promising for a wide range of applications including MEMS sensors, artificial muscles, biomimetic systems, and medical devices. The deformation behavior of IPMC actuators depends on the pH of the working solution. However, their basic mechanism is not well understood. Therefore, this study investigates the deformation mechanism of an IPMC actuator with palladium electrodes in various pH solutions. The tip displacements of IPMC actuators were measured under a step voltage in various pH solutions. Cyclic voltammetry (CV) and alternating-current (AC) impedance measurements were then performed to investigate the effects of pH on the electrochemical properties of IPMC actuators. The responses to a step voltage indicate that the deformation behavior of an IPMC actuator depends on the pH: a lower pH gives a larger maximum tip displacement and more pronounced relaxation. In CV measurements, a lower pH results in more active reduction on the palladium electrode. In AC impedance measurements, a lower pH leads to a greater charge transfer resistance and a smaller double layer capacitance in an acid solution. Based on these mechanical and electrochemical measurements, we conclude that the maximum tip displacement and relaxation are governed by reduction on the palladium electrode and that the residual tip displacement is related to the charge transfer resistance and the double layer capacitance. These results are helpful for the use and control of IPMC actuators.

Original languageEnglish
Article number055028
JournalSmart Materials and Structures
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2013 May

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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