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Interview: Into the Future with EAP

What does it actually feel like to have a hand in shaping the future? Someone who ought to know is Dr. Andreas Köllnberger: the WACKER chemist has played a key role in transforming EAP technology into a revolutionary product – NEXIPAL® laminates. In this interview, he talks about the fascinating opportunities that these laminates open up in the fields of actuators and sensors.

Dr. Andreas K├Âllnberger

With NEXIPAL®, WACKER has translated EAP technology into a revolutionary product. Dr. Andreas Köllnberger played a key role in this. He joined WACKER in 2006 and has since held various research positions. The chemist developed ultrathin silicone films together with his team in 2012 and received the Alexander Wacker Innovation Award for this in 2015. He took on the overall project management for the further development of the precision films at Global Business Development in mid-2017.

Electroactive silicone laminate from WACKER

Dr. Köllnberger, a question for you as an EAP guru: what makes EAP technology so unique?

Well, there are certainly plenty of gurus in the field of electroactive polymers. All the development and success of this product line are built on a foundation of interdepartmental teamwork. I’m currently focusing more on developing the next generation. As WACKER is a silicone manufacturer, we have the advantage of drawing on polymers and raw materials to make the next generation of NEXIPAL® even better.

In your opinion, what is the development or application potential of EAP technology and NEXIPAL® laminates?

The application potential is huge. In principle, EAP laminates can revolutionize the entire actuator technology. Of course, this is still a long way off. But already today, every actuator can be built to be lighter and quieter than a solenoid – and that with an entirely new design.

„The application potential is huge. In principle, EAP laminates can revolutionize the entire actuator technology.“

Dr. Andreas Köllnberger, Global Business Development

Quality is very important in both actuator and sensor technology. How do you assure the quality of NEXIPAL® laminates?

We have been stringently testing the quality of our developments from the start. In-line process controls and qualification testing in the entire process chain are fundamental to our activities. That’s why we involve employees of our global quality management in our team from an early stage on.

Where is research and development at WACKER heading?

Industry is clearly demanding a lower driving voltage for actuators. There are various options to achieve this goal. We investigate, for example, in increasing the permittivity or in lowering the film thickness. At the same time, the basic properties of silicone elastomers that are inherently suitthis application must be perserved. The component’s overall performance is crucial here.

„From the silicone itself to the manufacture of ultrathin precision silicone films and NEXIPAL® multilayer laminates, we can make full use of our strengths.“

Why is WACKER involved in the field of electroactive polymers?

The community agrees that, thanks to their unique set of properties, silicone elastomers are the material of choice materials for use in dielectric transformers, i.e. sensors, actuators and generators. As a manufacturer of silicone elastomers, we are fully backward integrated in our production chain, and are thus able to modify the silicone ourselves.

From the silicone itself to the manufacture of ultrathin precision silicone films and NEXIPAL® multilayer laminates, we can make full use of our strengths – both chemical and process-related – and offer customers products suitable for them.

Please complete this sentence: “In ten years, NEXIPAL® will …

… be found in far more applications than it is today.”

Thank you for the interview.

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