Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 July 2014
With the rapid advances of materials used in science and technology, various intelligent materials that can sense variations in the environment, process the information, and respond accordingly are being developed at a fast pace. Shape-memory alloys, piezoelectric materials, etc., fall into this category of intelligent materials. Polymers have attractive properties compared to inorganic materials. They are lightweight, inexpensive, fracture tolerant, pliable, and easily processed and manufactured . An organic polymer that possesses the electrical, electronic, magnetic and optical properties of a metal while retaining the mechanical properties and processability, etc., commonly associated with a conventional polymer, is termed an “intrinsically conducting polymer” (ICP), or more commonly, a “synthetic metal” . The unique properties of these materials are highly attractive for a wide range of applications such as actuators, supercapacitors, batteries, etc. With the development of nanotechnology, these materials can be engineered to develop a variety of multifunctional active materials for intelligent applications that were previously imaginable only in science fiction. Figure 8.1 shows an artistic interpretation of the Grand Challenge for EAP actuated robotics.