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An inchworm actuator is described, which uses complementary configurations for the two clamping sections. In one configuration, clamping and release are achieved using high and low voltages, respectively, while for the other, clamping and release are achieved using low and high voltages, respectively. The resulting inchworm actuator can be driven by a two-channel controller with the two clamps sharing the first channel and the extender piezoelectric actuator using the second channel. The paper also describes a diode-shunted delay circuit that causes unclamping to occur more slowly than clamping. It is shown that by using the delay circuit in series with each clamp, the overall force drive capability of the actuator is increased. The paper presents simulated and experimental results of clamp force versus time during the switching transient. An analysis of a generalized delay circuit having both resistive and reactive elements shows that a purely resistive design provides the better tradeoff between increased force drive capability and power loss in the delay circuit.
Date of Publication: June 2006