Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Mehul A. Bhatia, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Yuxiang Shawn Liu, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Pradeep Radhakrishnan, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Balaji Panchapakesan, Advisor




The ability to convert electrical energy into mechanical motion is of significant interest in many energy conversion technologies. For more than a decade Ionic polymer-metal composite (IPMC) as an electroactive smart polymer material has been extensively studied and has shown great potential as soft robotic actuators, artificial muscles and dynamic sensors in the micro-to-macro size range. IPMC consists of an ion exchange polymer membrane sandwiched between two noble metal electrodes on either side of the membrane. Under applied potential, the IPMC actuator results in bending deformation because of ion migration and redistribution across its surface due to the imposed voltage. Nafion are highly porous polymer materials which have been extensively studied as the ion exchange membrane in IPMC. Nafion has also been mixed with carbon nanotubes, graphene, and metallic nanoparticles to improve actuation and bending characteristics of electro-mechanical actuators. For the first time, liquid phase exfoliated Transition Metal Dichalcogenides (TMDs)-Nafion nanocomposite based electro-mechanical actuators has been studied and demonstrate the improvement in the electromechanical actuation performance.

In this thesis, we create a 2D model of the TMD-Nafion based electromechanical actuator in COMSOL Multi-physics software. The behavior of the model is examined at different electric potentials, frequencies, and actuation lengths. The simulation results were compared with the experimental data for validation of the model. The data showed improvement in the actuation for TMD-Nafion actuator when compared with pure Nafion actuator. The improvement in the actuation was due to the increase in diffusivity of the TMD-Nafion actuator in comparison with pure Nafion actuator. This increase in the diffusivity as seen in the model is because of the new proton conducting pathways being established with the addition of TMDs. The model also shows an increase in the stress and strain values with the incorporation of TMDs. With the same length of the actuator we were able to obtain more stress and strain with the addition of TMDs. This helps in improving the performance of the actuator as it would be able to handle more stress cycles which also increases the life of the actuator.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Mechanical Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





COMSOL. Transition Metal Dichalcogenides (TMDs) FEM Electromechanical actuator IPMC