Abstract

An ionic polymer metallic composite (IPMC) can perform a bending deformation under an electric field by a small bias voltage. A roughening process is necessary and typically included in the IPMC fabrication. Roughening processes bring several advantages, including better metal adhesion and actuation performance. However, the resulting large surface roughness is an obstacle for optical applications. In this paper, we coated polydimethylsiloxane to improve the surface roughness of IPMC. The improved surface roughness is around 28 nm versus tens of micrometers with an uncoated IPMC. The surface-improved IPMC achieved focusing power of 77 diopters under a 7 V bias voltage. We also found that the lifetime in atmosphere is 30 times longer than that of the nonimproved IPMC. Compared with other popular focusing techniques, such as liquid lenses or micromachined deformable mirrors, the driving voltage is at least one order of magnitude lower and the tunable range is two to three times larger. The effects of the surface-improved fabrication on reflectance, surface scattering, and actuation performance are also discussed. We demonstrate the surface-improved method to construct a patterned IPMC deformable membrane for optical applications.

© 2012 Optical Society of America

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