The development of a variety of new biomedical and bioinspired mechatronic systems poses challenges that share the need for innovative technologies for electromechanical transduction, so as to enable applications not feasible or even imaginable with conventional approaches. To address this need, new technologies based on electromechanically active polymer (EAP) transducers are progressively emerging as a promising solution. The idea is to use ‘active smart materials’ that exhibit a inherent mechanical response to an electrical stimulus, so as to design radically new electrical devices characterized by light weight, mechanical compliance, compact size, simple structure, low power consumption, acoustically silent operation, and low cost. EAPs offer such properties and are referred to as ‘artificial muscle materials’, because of their ability to undergo large and controllable deformations upon electrical stimulation. This talk will be focused on the most versatile and performing EAP technology, known as dielectric elastomer actuators. Following a brief overview on the field and on the underpinning physical and engineering fundamentals, the talk will present some devices and applications under development by the speaker’s group, including wearable haptic displays for vibro-tactile feedback in virtual reality systems, variable-stiffness orthotic systems for motor rehabilitation of the hand, refreshable Braille displays as portable tactile readers for the blind people, and bioinspired systems for artificial vision.
SEMS/IoB Seminar Series
Coffee/tea/biscuits provided after the seminar