I am a fan of science fiction, I have to admit that Philip K. Dick just catch me with their human androids -not sure about this last two words- My point, literature is one of my main motivations to do science.

I’ve found this interesting book called Electroactive Polymers for Robotic Applications, edited by Prof. Kwang J. Kim and Prof. Satoshi Tadokoro – which has motivated this entry. Looking for information regarding these two scientist you can find that Prof. Kwang is still working at the University of Nevada and Prof. Tadokoro has launched Tadokoro Laboratory in 2005. The next lines can tell you their main research areas:

Kwang Kim Lab

In “active materials/sensor” research, I am emphasizing the actuation and sensing of synthetic and biomimetic materials (i.e. Ionic Polymer-Metal Composite/IPMC) as well as their interfacial materials that can be actuated/controlled by electric or other external stimuli. In “(renewable) energy systems” research, I am engineering intriguing materials (i.e. metal hydride, nanoporous materials, polymer-nanocomposite, surfactant, etc) for renewable energy applications. I am also interested in collaborating with private industries/investors who can provide an important link between my fundamental research and applied research currently being developed in my and their laboratories.

Tadokoro Laboratory

Our laboratory was newly born April 2005 and we are working for USAR ( uarban area search and rescue robots) and information system for disaster prevention. The integration of robotic technology and other key technologies to improve the quarity of life is also our scope, including virtual reality and 3D vision system.

Flicking around Tadokoro lab’s website I’ve found something really amazing: the developing of tactile feeling display. Here an explanation about this:

As a demonstration of integrated technology studied in our laboratory, we developed a “touch a virtual pig” system. You can feel differences of clothes and rub it along its spherical nose or ears.

The system presents roughness, softness and friction feelings to fingers just by mechanically vibratory stimuli, which are controlled according to rubbing motions.

According with this book electroactive polymers (EAP) are those polymers that change shape or size in response to electrical stimulus. These materials can be classified depending on the mechanism responsible for actuation (Table 1) or based on actuator mechanism (Table 2).

  1. Classification of EAP according with the mechanism responsible for actuation
    • Electronic EAP actuate by electric field or coulomb forces.
    • Ionic EAP change shape by mobility or diffusion of ions and their conjugated substances.
  2. Classification of EAP depending on actuator mechanism
    • Polarization, mass/ion transportation, molecular shape change, and phase change.