In this paper, we develop and characterise the use of amorphous Silicon as an optically functional material in actuated devices. A novel actuator is developed which uses thin amorphous silicon film deposited on a polyimide substrate using Plasma Enhanced Chemical Vapour Deposition (PECVD). The actuator generates an active stroke via electrostatic attraction which causes the electrodes to “zip” together. The magnitude of displacement is controlled by exploiting the light-dependant resistance of an amorphous silicon (a-Si) photoreceptor integrated onto the actuator. An 8mm long actuator was prototyped and curvature changes were measured using image processing techniques to track the amorphous silicon electrode during actuation. A change of radius of 1mm was found between the ambient (22 Lux) and illuminated states (36 kLux) with an applied voltage of 5 kV.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the SPIE, Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) XXII
PublisherSociety of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE)
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2020
EventSPIE Smart Structures + Nondestructive Evaluation - Online
Duration: 27 Apr 20208 May 2020


ConferenceSPIE Smart Structures + Nondestructive Evaluation
Internet address

Bibliographical note

Acceptance date is provisional and based on date of publication.


  • amorphous silicon
  • actuator
  • compliant actuators
  • optically functional
  • thin films


Dive into the research topics of 'Switching of amorphous silicon thin-film actuators for optically functional robotic devices'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this