Date of Award


Access Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair

Dae Won Kim, Ph.D.

First Committee Member

David Sypeck, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

Emily Faulconer, Ph.D.


With smart materials and adaptive structures being nudged into mainstream technology progressively, the smart composites are donning a predominant role as indispensable structures. Among these, the Ionic Polymer Metal Composites (IPMC), with their large bending deformation and relaxation characteristics at very low voltages are attractive as transducers in many areas of application. The actuation and sensing properties of IPMC have been sought after for various engineering functions. The paper focuses on manufacturing various types of IPMC. Combining the ionic polymer with platinum electrodes, gold sputter coated electrodes and multi-walled carbon nanotube Bucky paper electrodes to create enhanced IPMCs, comparative analysis of different manufacturing methodologies discussing the electrode morphology using scanning electron microscopy and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy techniques is studied. A comparison of the uniformity of the electrode plating obtained from the different processes is studied while the research also concentrates on making use of different ionic solutions to change the anions within the polymer membrane for comparison such as to determine the most suited ion content within the solid electrolyte for effective IPMC actuation. A COMSOL multiphysics model is attempted in this thesis, which effectively describes a multiphysics modeling approach for the IPMC. This new functionally graded material is tested for its bending deformation, blocking force and the current consumption to prove the electro-mechanical efficiency of the platinum, gold and Bucky paper IPMC. By studying the electromechanical properties of this smart composite actuator based on its actuation under different electric excitations, we can draw conclusions subsequently from the results of the comparison.