Carbon Nanotube Actuators

The new actuators we describe here use carbon single-walled nanotube sheets as electrolyte-filled electrodes of a supercapacitor

Ray H. Baughman

2002

Scholarcy highlights

  • Conducting polymer actuators based on electrochemical dopant intercalation were proposed a decade ago and have been pioneered in many different laboratories
  • The new actuators we describe here use carbon single-walled nanotube sheets as electrolyte-filled electrodes of a supercapacitor
  • The new actuators use dimensional changes in covalently bonded directions caused by this charge injection, which originate from quantum chemical and double-layer electrostatic effects
  • Calculations and experimental results for charge transfer complexes of graphite and conducting polymers show that the strain due to quantum mechanical effects changes sign from an expansion for electron injection to a contraction for hole injection. Expansion results from both quantum chemical effects and electrostatic double-layer charging for high-density charge injection of either sign
  • Nonuniform charge distribution will affect the strainvoltage coefficient only to the extent that the strain-charge coefficient varies between differently charged regions of a nanotube bundle. These results enable prediction of the actuator performance that may be obtained for separate SWNTs
  • The observed 0.01-ms time constant of a micrometer-sized electrode suggests that very high-frequency operation may be achievable for single nanotube actuators, this remains to be experimentally demonstrated

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