The silicone film all-rounder
If the researchers from the Chair for Intelligent Material Systems at Saarland University are to be believed, they have come up with a universal component that can be both a sensor and an actuator — and, what’s more, can be deployed almost anywhere.7 Apr 2018 Eduard Heilmayr
This marvel consists of wafer-thin silicone film which acts as a membrane , printed on both sides, and with a conductive layer. Head of the research team Professor Stefan Seelecke counts off impressive application possibilities: as a stepless switch control, a self-dosing valve, a motorless pump, a position sensor, or even as embossed surface recognition in touch screens. At the Hannover Fair the scientists will be looking for partners for their invention ( Hall 2, stand B46 ).
When an electrical voltage is applied, the film deforms. The resulting electrical capacity is measured, “and we can infer the mechanical deviation of the film”, explains engineer Philipp Linnebach , who is working on the new film in Seelecke’s team as a scientific worker and doctoral student. In a control unit the motion sequences can thus be precisely calculated and programmed.
These properties make conceivable its use in a wide range of technical components — for example, in a valve that automatically releases precise doses of compressed air or fluids. A further application is on/off switches. The advantage here is that “These components operate very energy-efficiently – the film needs no energy to maintain a particular position. It consumes energy only to change its position”, explains doctoral student Paul Motzki , also a scientific worker in Professor Seelecke’s team. As a compressed air valve, for example, the film is 500 times more efficient than an electromagnetic valve
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