Magneto-active elastomers (MAE) are a new branch of smart materials that consist of hard-magnetic particles such as barium ferrite in an elastomer matrix. Under the application of a uniform magnetic field, the MAE material undergoes large deformation as the material bends due to magnetic torques acting on the distribution of hard-magnetic particles. This behavior demonstrates the potential of MAEs to act as remote actuators. MAEs vary from magnetorheological elastomers (MRE) which use soft-magnetic iron particles in place of the hard-magnetic particles and they are driven by magnetic interactions between particles.

In this work, MAEs were fabricated using 30% v/v 325 mesh M-type barium ferrite (BaM) particles in Dow Corning HS II silicone elastomers. Prior to curing, the samples were placed in a uniform (∼2 Tesla) magnetic field to align the magnetic particles and produce a magnetization oriented in the direction of the applied magnetic field. The specimens were bonded to a passive poldymethylsiloxane (PDMS) substrate to form a two-segment accordion structure where the MAEs with magnetization, M, were placed in opposing orientations a prescribed distance apart. The application of a uniform magnetic field perpendicular to the magnetization of the undeformed MAEs would result in a bend (on the PDMS) that is dependent upon the orientation of the magnetic particles and the direction of the applied field. This behavior of the composite structure highlights the ability of the MAE material to perform work.

Experimental testing of the MAEs used a two-segment accordion structure with fixed boundary-conditions on both ends of the PDMS substrate and a uniform magnetic field was applied to the structure. The resulting deformation roughly represented either a mountain or valley fold (dependent upon the orientation of the applied field). The resulting axial force was observed and compared to computational simulations which utilized numerical techniques to develop approximate solutions. This procedure was repeated with a prescribed displacement on one of the two fixed boundary conditions to induce bending prior to the application of a uniform magnetic field. Results show a decrease in magnetic work potential with increases in the aforementioned prescribed displacement; results also show an increase in magnetic work potential with increases in the applied magnetic field.

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