Electroactive Polymers, or EAPs, are polymers that exhibit a change in size or shape when stimulated by an electric field. The most common applications of this type of material are in actuators and sensors. A typical characteristic property of an EAP is that they will undergo a large amount of deformation while sustaining large forces.
The majority of historic actuators are made of ceramic piezoelectric materials. While these materials are able to withstand large forces, they commonly will only deform a fraction of a percent. In the late it has been demonstrated that some EAPs can exhibit up to a 380% strain, which is much more than any ceramic actuator. Another one of the most common applications for EAPs is in the field of robotics in the development of artificial muscles. Due to this being one of the most common and attractive applications, EAPs are often referred to as artificial muscles.
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