Active Shock Absorber DevelopedCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: June 6, 2012 12:45PM
The saying is 'necessity is the mother of invention' but really there are many motivators, like comfort. This motivator has led to the creation of modern shock absorbers, but even though these do give you a smooth ride, they are limited by their passive nature. Researchers at Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft have created an active shock absorber that uses artificial muscle to fight vibrations.
Electroactive elastomers are elastic materials that will change shape when exposed to an electric field. If you apply one electric field to them, they will contract, while the opposite field will cause them to stretch, similar to how a muscle works in the body. The researchers connected their electroactive elastomer to an alternating current, which rapidly flips the electric field. This causes the material to vibrate at a controlled frequency.
What the researchers hope to do with their active shock absorber is have it vibrate in a push-pull mode that will counter and cancel the vibrations of something like an engine. In a car this could be used to stop the engine from vibrating the entire frame and interior. Luckily for the places that do not have easy access to electricity, the function of the shock absorber can be reversed. Instead of using electricity to generate vibrations, it will absorb vibrations and generate electricity. This could prove valuable in monitoring vibrations in hard to reach places.