Toward commercializing the promising electroactive polymers (EAPs), a full-fledged collaborative research project between the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) and Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA was launched in October 2014.
The group of Dr. Kinji Asaka at AIST Kansai located in Osaka/Japan offers 20 years of experience in the research on the EAP materials and is globally recognized as one of the leading research groups in the field of ionic conductive polymer actuators as well as polymer actuators using carbon nanotubes (CNTs). The department of Functional Materials under the direction of Mr. Ivica Kolaric at Fraunhofer IPA located in Stuttgart/Germany is distinguished for its profound knowledge about the EAP as well as its application- and process-oriented approach to R&D on nano carbon materials. The group has been undertaking various projects with industrial and academic partners.
The bilateral collaboration starting in 2008 has been deepened through exchanging information, dispatching researchers and working together in a joint research project. The first prototype of micro pipette using CNT actuator was exhibited at the nano tech 2013 in Tokyo as their joint research result. As the both parties recognized the importance of working closely together as a team – in this manner, a maximum of scientific knowledge can be transferred and results can be generated swiftly – the “Fraunhofer Project Center for Electroactive Polymers” was installed at AIST Kansai as a long-lasting strategic and integrated collaboration platform.
The development objectives in this project center are:
(a) development of new materials for EAP actuators
(b) development of device prototypes
(c) development of scale-up methods
A corresponding laboratory was also set up at Fraunhofer IPA, so that the researchers from AIST and Fraunhofer can work and utilize the infrastructure at the partner institute.
By complementing AIST‘s competence in material science and Fraunhofer IPA‘s know-how in process and application technology, we are aiming to achieve good results and to transfer the achievement to the industry.