Millimetre-scale bubble-like dielectric elastomer actuators

Authors

  • Federico Carpi,

    Corresponding author
    1. Interdepartmental Research Centre ‘E Piaggio’, University of Pisa, School of Engineering, Via Diotisalvi, 2-56100 Pisa, Italy
    • Interdepartmental Research Centre ‘E Piaggio’, University of Pisa, School of Engineering, Via Diotisalvi, 2-56100 Pisa, Italy.
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  • Gabriele Frediani,

    1. Interdepartmental Research Centre ‘E Piaggio’, University of Pisa, School of Engineering, Via Diotisalvi, 2-56100 Pisa, Italy
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  • Sergio Tarantino,

    1. Interdepartmental Research Centre ‘E Piaggio’, University of Pisa, School of Engineering, Via Diotisalvi, 2-56100 Pisa, Italy
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  • Danilo De Rossi

    1. Interdepartmental Research Centre ‘E Piaggio’, University of Pisa, School of Engineering, Via Diotisalvi, 2-56100 Pisa, Italy
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Abstract

Hydrostatic coupling has recently been reported as a means to improve the versatility and safety of electromechanical actuators based on dielectric elastomers (DEs). Hydrostatically coupled DE actuators rely on an incompressible fluid that mechanically couples a DE-based active part to a passive part interfaced to the load. The work reported here was aimed at developing millimetre-scale bubble-like versions of such transducers. Silicone-made oil-filled actuators were manufactured as both single units and arrays of parallel elements. Bubbles had a base diameter of 6 mm and were driven up to a voltage of 2.25 kV, applied across a silicone film with a thickness of 42 µm. Active relative displacements and stresses up to 18% and 2.2 kPa, respectively, were recorded with static driving. Dynamic investigations reported a −3 dB bandwidth of the order of 100 Hz and a resonance frequency of about 250 Hz. Millimetre-scale hydrostatically coupled DE actuators might play a useful role in several fields of application. Among them, we are currently exploring novel tactile displays and cutaneous stimulators, made of wearable, distributed and flexible devices. Although further miniaturization is required for high-resolution uses, this technology holds promise to properly combine performance with safe and compliant interfaces with users, low specific weight, no acoustic noise and low cost. Copyright © 2009 Society of Chemical Industry

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