Nature communications

Electrostrictive microelectromechanical fibres and textiles.

PMID 29127280


Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) enable many modern-day technologies, including actuators, motion sensors, drug delivery systems, projection displays, etc. Currently, MEMS fabrication techniques are primarily based on silicon micromachining processes, resulting in rigid and low aspect ratio structures. In this study, we report on the discovery of MEMS functionality in fibres, thereby opening a path towards flexible, high-aspect ratio, and textile MEMS. The method used for generating these MEMS fibres leverages a preform-to-fibre thermal drawing process, in which the MEMS architecture and materials are embedded into a preform and drawn into kilometers of microstructured multimaterial fibre devices. The fibre MEMS functionality is enabled by an electrostrictive P(VDF-TrFE-CFE) ferrorelaxor terpolymer layer running the entire length of the fibre. Several modes of operation are investigated, including thickness-mode actuation with over 8% strain at 25 MV m-1, bending-mode actuation due to asymmetric positioning of the electrostrictive layer, and resonant fibre vibration modes tunable under AC-driving conditions.