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Mechanisms of large actuation strain in dielectric elastomers

Authors

  • Soo Jin Adrian Koh,

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
    2. Institute of High Performance Computing, 1 Fusionopolis Way, #16-16 Connexis, Singapore 138632, Singapore
    3. Engineering Science Programme and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, National University of Singapore, Kent Ridge, Singapore 119260, Singapore
    • School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
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  • Tiefeng Li,

    1. School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
    2. Institute of Applied Mechanics, Zhejiang University, 38 Zheda Road, Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310027, China
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  • Jinxiong Zhou,

    1. School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
    2. MOE Key Laboratory of Strength and Vibration and School of Aerospace, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an 710049, China
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  • Xuanhe Zhao,

    1. School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
    2. Soft Active Materials Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27708
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  • Wei Hong,

    1. Department of Aerospace Engineering, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011
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  • Jian Zhu,

    1. School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
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  • Zhigang Suo

    1. School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
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Abstract

Subject to a voltage, a dielectric elastomer (DE) deforms. Voltage-induced strains of above 100% have been observed when DEs are prestretched, and for DEs of certain network structures. Understanding mechanisms of large actuation strains is an active area of research. We propose that the voltage-stretch response of DEs may be modified by prestretch, or by using polymers with “short” chains. This modification results in suppression or elimination of electromechanical instability, leading to large actuation strains. We propose a method to select and design a DE, such that the actuation strain is maximized. The theoretical predictions agree well with existing experimental data. The theory may contribute to the development of DEs with exceptional performance. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Polym Sci Part B: Polym Phys, 2011

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