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Advanced Actuators and Transducers: Hybrid actuator systems recover environment energy to power devices

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

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Technology Marketing SummaryActuators and transducers are deployed to harvest mechanical energy in the environment as electrical energy and to convert stored electrical energy into mechanical energy. By developing a transducer based on advanced electroactive materials, NASA has produced a design that can harvest orders of magnitude more energy in a given application than traditional solutions, yielding more power to drive devices and store in batteries. In a complementary effort, a hybrid actuator system (HYBAS) with both an electroactive polymer (EAP) and an electroactive ceramic (EAC) achieves enhanced displacement performance from a single power supply, greatly reducing electrical consumption while simultaneously improving mechanical displacement compared to current state-of-the-art actuators.

Technology Opportunity Announcement (TOA) HYBAS design includes a dual piezoelectric transducer combining an EAP and EAC. The dual elements are powered by a single electrical source, reducing size and mass as well as the electrical demands of the system, as compared to single-element designs: hybrid actuator systems provide more potential and require less power. By controlling the thickness and distribution of power between the two elements, the HYBAS component can be custom-engineered to achieve optimal design specifications. This technology offers continued improvements as advanced materials are developed that can take advantage of the design configuration. Advanced displacement and reduced power consumption are widely demanded in electronic, electro-optical, micro-electromechanical, and mechanical systems for a wide array of applications, including optical devices, drug delivery, underwater navigation, and aerospace technologies.Benefits
  • Low-volume, lightweight, high mechanical-to-electrical power conversion efficiency
  • Superior performance compared to single-element designs
  • Orders of magnitude more power than existing technologies and requires no power supply
  • Custom design specifications possible due to configurable material selection
  • Advanced materials to further enhance
Applications and Industries
  • Actuators – precision machinery, optical devices, drug delivery, underwater navigation, microphones
  • Aerospace – active noise-vibration control, aerodynamic control, surveillance
  • Defense – surveillance, remote sensor networks, deploy actuators
  • Mobile consumer electronics – power supplies
  • Biomedical – power supplies and actuation for implants and wearable medical devices
More InformationLicensable from NASA Langley Research Center:
Mail Stop 218
Hampton, VA 23681
Technology Status
Development StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
DevelopmentAvailable - This technology is currently available for non-exclusive licensing or partnership opportunities.12/27/201001/03/2011

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