The EAP field and the EuroEAP conference
Electromechanically Active Polymers (EAPs) represent a fast growing and promising scientific field of research and development. EAPs are studied for devices and systems implemented with ‘smart materials’ inherently capable of changing dimensions and/or shape in response to suitable electrical stimuli, so as to transduce electrical energy into mechanical work. They can also operate in reverse mode, transducing mechanical energy into the electrical domain. Therefore, they can be used as actuators, mechano-electrical sensors, as well as energy harvesters to generate electricity. For such tasks, EAPs show unique properties, such as sizable electrically-driven active strains or stresses, high mechanical flexibility, low density, structural simplicity, ease of processing and scalability, no acoustic noise and, in most cases, low costs. Owing to their functional and structural properties, electromechanical transducers based on these materials are often referred to as EAP ‘artificial muscles’.
EAP materials are typically classified in two major classes: ionic EAPs and electronic EAPs. The former are activated by an electrically-induced transport of ions and/or solvent molecules, while the latter are activated by electrostatic forces. Ionic EAPs comprehend polymer gels, ionic polymer metal composites, conducting polymers, and carbon nanotubes. Electronic EAPs comprehend piezoelectric polymers, electrostrictive polymers, dielectric elastomers, liquid crystal elastomers, and carbon nanotube aerogels.
EAPs are studied for applications that so far have been unachievable with conventional transduction technologies, with usage spanning from the micro- to the macro- scale, in several fields, including haptics, optics, acoustics, microfluidics, automation, orthotics, artificial organs, and energy harvesting.
The rapid expansion of the EAP technologies has stimulated in Europe the creation of the EuroEAP Society, an international society open to members from any country in the world. In an effort to disseminate current advances in this emerging field of science and technology, gathering experts from all over the world, the Society organises and supports the annual, international EuroEAP conference, which is meant to be primarily driven by scientific quality and industrial impact.
The international conference is a highly multidisciplinary event. It is always held in Europe, in charming and easy-to-reach locations, and gathers participants and experts from all over the world.
The conference topics cover any aspects of the whole chain from raw materials to products, including:
- Development and characterisation of EAP materials, including ionic EAPs (e.g. polymer gels, ionic polymer metal composites, conducting polymers and carbon nanotubes) and electronic EAPs (e.g. piezoelectric polymers, electrostrictive polymers, dielectric elastomers, liquid crystal elastomers and carbon nanotube aerogels);
- Novel EAP materials;
- Design, manufacturing, characterisation and testing of devices (e.g. actuators, sensors and energy harvesters);
- Modeling, simulation and control of devices and systems;
- Development and validation of applications.
In order to get a grasp on the type of contributions presented during the various editions of the conference, please visit the page EuroEAP proceedings.