In this talk, I will present the emerging field of electroactive polymer (EAP) microsystems for integrated medical applications, highlighting the EAP actuation mechanisms of soft and hard materials for making passive and active devices: a. electrostriction of a recently developed relaxor ferroelectric polymer, b. diffusion of ions in the case of a hydrogel, and c. dielectric elastomer actuation. We will present the "grand plan" where the variability of polymers, in addition to their intrinsic properties is of great advantage to medical applications. Biocompatibility, light weight, low-cost processing, and flexibility together with operational similarity to biological muscle and the ability to exhibit property changes much beyond what is achievable with inorganic, makes EAPs attractive for applications in artificial muscles, robotics, intelligent medical devices and prosthetics, and drug delivery systems. In each of the aforementioned actuation modes, EAP devices become more efficient as the scale is reduced, providing motivation for downscaling.
While EAPs have the potential to improve many aspects of human life, we will mainly address the applications of flexible micro motors, cardiac tissue engineering and cardiovascular occlusion and the processing and integration challenges that we encountered in working on these systems. Recent advances in polymer microfabrication (i.e. imprint lithography, laser micromachining, and 3D printing), together with breakthroughs in materials science, and understanding of EAP behavior at these small scales will serve to overcome the technological barriers to full integration with microsystems and usher in a new paradigm of medical microsystems.
Leeya Engel is a direct track Ph.D. candidate (final stage) in the department of Material Science and Engineering at the faculty of Engineering Tel Aviv University, Israel. Leeya was awarded the Marian Gertner Medical Nanosystems Fellowship in 2013 and she heads the student chapter of the Israel Vacuum Society (IVS). Leeya founded and co-chairs the annual IVS student conference and also serves as president of the Materials Research Society student chapter at Tel Aviv University. She received her B.Sc. in Physics from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel in 2008. She has published 6 journal papers, presented 5 international conference papers, and holds 2 patents. Her research interests include electroactive polymer actuation and integration in micro/nano scale sensors and actuators.