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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award

Spring 2017

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Murphy, Amanda R.

Second Advisor

Patrick, David L.

Third Advisor

Peyron, Mark, 1961-


Biocompatible actuators are widely desired for a variety of biomedical devices such as micromanipulators, steerable catheters and artificial muscles but current devices have shortcomings in the range of motion they can achieve. Biocompatible electrodes made from conducting polymers (CPs) have been successfully created but achieving the spatial patterning of these polymers needed for electronic devices like strain gauges, stimulation electrodes and micro circuitry has been difficult. Previous work has relied on complex chemical incorporation of CPs into photoresists or electropolymerization onto vapor-deposited metal substrates. A simple method to produce metal-free flexible electronics would be highly desirable for biomedical electronics. This work explores the use of photolithography to generate masks that can be used to create conductive CP patterns on the surface of fibroin films with resolution in the tens of microns. This process was used to create uniaxial strain gauges that achieved uniaxial sensitization and superior signal-to-noise over unpatterned films. Drop casting and laser etching were employed to give silk films defined surface topology and the mechanical characteristics and their performance as electrochemical actuators was studied. Electrochemical actuations were not significantly affected by the topological patterns, however the topological films demonstrated a promising ability to self-fold. Simulations of the electrochemical actuations by Finite Element Analysis modeling was made possible by creating an analogy of electrochemical expansion to thermal expansion. Analysis provided insight into previously inconclusive experimental results and suggested a further analogy between potential distribution and thermal distribution that leads to predictive models of both actuation and electrical polymerization.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Medical electronics; Biomedical materials; Silk; Conducting polymers; Actuators; Electrodes; Finite element method




masters theses




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