Toyoda Gosei Co. Ltd and Advanced Softmaterials (ASM) Ltd have entered an exclusive licensing agreement for the use and sale of the Slide-Ring material, a key material in e-Rubber. e-Rubber is a versatile smart polymer that acts as an electromechanical transducer to transform electric energy to or from mechanical movement. The agreement is limited to applications of the material in dielectric actuators and dielectric sensors.

Dielectric actuators are characterised by their softness, light weight, high output and low energy consumption. A great deal of research work has been done worldwide for a very broad range of applications, such as “artificial muscles for robotics” and other uses as a next-generation source of motive power to replace electromagnetic motors.

Dielectric sensors are also promising for use as tactile/pressure sensors and motion sensors that take advantage of this softness. As with actuators, however, there were issues caused by the basic physical and chemical properties of materials (internal friction, durability, etc.). The Slide-Ring Material, through its supramolecular structure and material design technology, is said to overcome these issues.

With this exclusive licensing agreement, Toyoda Gosei and ASM will work more closely to accelerate the development of e-Rubber for practical uses in smart devices to be employed in various kinds of next-generation robots that will support aging societies with falling birth rates, industrial equipment, automobiles and IoT.