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Proceedings Paper

Dielectric elastomer actuators with zero-energy fixity
Author(s): Jonathan Rossiter; Kazuto Takashima; Toshiharu Mukai
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Paper Abstract

Although dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs) are becoming more powerful and more versatile, one disadvantage of DEAs is the need to continuously supply electrical power in order to maintain an actuated state. Previous solutions to this problem have involved the construction of a bistable or multi-stable rigid mechanical structure or the addition of some external locking mechanism. Such structures and mechanisms add unwanted complexity and bulk. In this paper we present a dielectric elastomer actuator that exhibits zero-energy fixity. That is, the actuator can be switched into a rigid state where it requires no energy to maintain its actuated shape. This is achieved without any additional mechanical complexity. This actuator relies on changes to the elastic properties of the elastomer material in response to a secondary stimulus. The elastomer can be switched from a rigid glass-like state to a soft rubber-like state as required. We present a dielectric elastomer actuator that utilizes shape-memory polymer properties to achieve such state switching. We call this a dielectric shape memory polymer actuator (DSMPA). In this case control of the elastic properties is achieved through temperature control. When the material is below its glass transition temperature (Tg) it is in its rigid state and dielectric actuation has no effect. When the temperature is elevated above Tg the material becomes soft and elastic, and dielectric actuation can be exploited. We present preliminary results showing that the necessary conditions for this zero-energy fixity property have been achieved. Applications are widespread in the fields of robotics and engineering and include morphing wings that only need energy to change shape and control valves that lock rigidly into position.

Paper Details

Date Published: 9 April 2010
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 7642, Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) 2010, 764224 (9 April 2010); doi: 10.1117/12.847228
Show Author Affiliations
Jonathan Rossiter, Univ. of Bristol (United Kingdom)
Kazuto Takashima, RIKEN (Japan)
Toshiharu Mukai, RIKEN (Japan)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7642:
Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) 2010
Yoseph Bar-Cohen, Editor(s)

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