Smart Materials for Smart Actuators

The combination of existing technologies and the use of new smart materials leads to new innovative devices.

  • In the field of piezoelectric actuators, two main axes of research are followed. One axis addresses the generation of a touch feeling: a piezoelectric actuator generates vibrations on a touch screen so that the user feels a modified friction coefficient when touching the screen. The second axis concerns generation of high forces in a reduced volume. Sensorless techniques are applied to piezoelectric-based linear actuators as well. In the domain of haptics, the potential of Neural Networks and Machine Learning for position feed-back generation on a piezo-driven surface is explored.
  • The use of Shape Memory Alloys (SMA), combined with Permanent Magnets (PM) leads to hybrid grippers that opens doors to new markets in replacement of conventional pneumatic ones.
  • Dielectric Electro-Active (DEA) polymers present particular characteristics that are exploited by the Center for Artificial Muscles (cf. CAM) to benefit from actuators with large deformations under high voltage supply. Specific electronics is developed.