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Synthesizing a new dielectric elastomer exhibiting large actuation strain and suppressed electromechanical instability without prestretching

Authors

  • Xiaofan Niu,

    1. Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), 420 Westwood Plaza, 3111 Engineering V, Los Angeles, California 90095
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  • Hristiyan Stoyanov,

    1. Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), 420 Westwood Plaza, 3111 Engineering V, Los Angeles, California 90095
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  • Wei Hu,

    1. Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), 420 Westwood Plaza, 3111 Engineering V, Los Angeles, California 90095
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  • Ruby Leo,

    1. Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), 420 Westwood Plaza, 3111 Engineering V, Los Angeles, California 90095
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  • Paul Brochu,

    1. Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), 420 Westwood Plaza, 3111 Engineering V, Los Angeles, California 90095
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  • Qibing Pei

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), 420 Westwood Plaza, 3111 Engineering V, Los Angeles, California 90095
    • Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles 420 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, California 90095
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Abstract

Prestrain provides high actuation performance in dielectric elastomers (DEs) but increases the bulk, mass, and fatigue of the resulting actuators. Based on our experiments on prestrain-locked interpenetrating polymer films and the model developed by Zhao and Suo, materials with a certain stress–strain relationship should be capable of high strain without prestrain by suppressing electromechanical instability (EMI). Here, we report the synthesis of an acrylic elastomer capable of achieving high actuation performance without prestrain. DE films were directly fabricated by ultraviolet curing of precursors comprising a mixture of acrylate comonomers. Varying the amount of crosslinker comonomer in the precursor allowed us to tune the stress–strain relationship and completely suppress EMI while maintaining high strain performance. Addition of plasticizing agents increased strain sensitivity. The result is a new DE, synthesized from scratch, capable of high actuation strain (>100%), high energy density (>1 J g−1), and good temperature and frequency response without requiring prestretching. The material can be fabricated using conventional coating techniques and the process can allow for high volume throughput of stacked DE actuators. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Polym Sci Part B: Polym Phys, 2013

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