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Proceedings Paper

On the nature of dielectric elastomer actuators and its implications for their design
Author(s): Jean-Sebastien Plante; Steven Dubowsky
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Paper Abstract

Dielectric Elastomer (DE) actuators have been studied extensively under laboratory conditions where they have shown promising performance. However, in practical applications, they have not achieved their full potential. Here, the results of detailed analytical and experimental studies of the failure modes and performance boundaries of DE actuators are presented. The objective is to establish fundamental design principles for DE actuators. Analytical models suggest that DE actuators made with highly viscoelastic films are capable of reliably achieving large extensions when used at high speeds (high stretch rates). Experiments show that DE actuators used in low speed applications, such as slow continuous actuation, are subject to failure at substantially lower extensions and also have lower efficiencies. This creates an important reliability/performance trade-off because, due to their viscoelastic nature, highest DE actuators forces are obtained at low speeds. Hence, DE actuator design requires careful reliability/performance trade-offs because actuator speeds and extensions for optimal performance can significantly reduce actuator life.

Paper Details

Date Published: 22 March 2006
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 6168, Smart Structures and Materials 2006: Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD), 61681J (22 March 2006); doi: 10.1117/12.659229
Show Author Affiliations
Jean-Sebastien Plante, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (United States)
Steven Dubowsky, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6168:
Smart Structures and Materials 2006: Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD)
Yoseph Bar-Cohen, Editor(s)

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