Chen’s group of SINANO i-lab has recently made important progress on biomimetic electrochemical capacitive actuator. Directed by Professor Wei Chen, Ph.D. student Luhua Lu has successfully constructed a sandwich-like capacitive actuator from the supramolecular assembly of biopolymer/ionic liquid/carbon nanotube. The composite actuator shows excellent low-voltage fast bending actuation performance in air. The microscopic structure and actuation performance have been illustrated in figures below. The biopolymer is a unique natural polycation. It widely exists in organisms (crab shell, cell wall and etc) and has been proved to be excellent agent for dispersion, stabilization, functionalization of carbon nanotubes. These advantages allow promotion of composite electrical conductivity, electrochemical capacitance, mechanical performance, low voltage actuation stability, interfacial bonding and biocompatibility. Thus the composite actuator should have promising potential application value in implant artificial muscle, medical apparatus, and soft energy storage device.
Research progress has been published on 《Advanced Materials》（2010, 22, 3745），while was highlighted in the topic “Artificial muscles: Closer to nature” by Nature Asia (Nature Publishing Group) since the electronic edition published online。
This work was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (10704051) and National Basic Research Program of China（2010CB934700）。
Figure (a) supramolecular structure of Chitosan/CNT; (b) uniform dispersion of CNTs; (c) bimorph composite actuator; (d) voltage, current, and countering bending displacement of composite actuator.