Ionomeric polymers are a promising class of intelligent material which exhibit electromechanical coupling similar to that of piezoelectric bimorphs. Ionomeric polymers are much more compliant than piezoelectric ceramics or polymers and have been shown to produce actuation strain on the order of 2% at operating voltages between 1V and 3V (Akle et al., 2004, Proceedings IMECE). Their high compliance is advantageous in low force sensing configurations because ionic polymers have a very little impact on the dynamics of the measured system. Here we present a variational approach to the dynamic modeling of structures which incorporate ionic polymer materials. To demonstrate the method a cantilever beam model is developed using this variational approach. The modeling approach requires a priori knowledge of three empirically determined material properties: elastic modulus, dielectric permittivity, and effective strain coefficient. Previous work by Newbury and Leo has demonstrated that these three parameters are strongly frequency dependent in the range between less than 1Hz to frequencies greater than 1kHz. Combining the frequency-dependent material parameters with the variational method produces a second-order matrix representation of the structure. The frequency dependence of the material parameters is incorporated using a complex-property approach similar to the techniques for modeling viscoelastic materials. A transducer is manufactured and the method of material characterization is applied to determine the mtaerial properties. Additional experiments are performed on this transducer and both the material and structural model are validated. Finally, the model is shown to predict sensing response very well in comparison to experimental results, which supports the use of an energy-based variational approach for modeling ionomeric polymer transducers.

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