Electromechanically coupled dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs) and dielectric elastomer switches (DESs) may form digital logic circuitry made entirely of soft and flexible materials. The expansion in planar area of a DEA exerts force across a DES, which is a soft electrode with strain-dependent resistivity. When compressed, the DES drops steeply in resistance and changes state from non-conducting to conducting. Logic operators may be achieved with different arrangements of interacting DE actuators and switches. We demonstrate combinatorial logic elements, including the fundamental Boolean logic gates, as well as sequential logic elements, including latches and flip-flops. With both data storage and signal processing abilities, the necessary calculating components of a soft computer are available. A noteworthy advantage of a soft computer with mechanosensitive DESs is the potential for responding to environmental strains while locally processing information and generating a reaction, like a muscle reflex.
Katherine E. Wilson, E.-F. Markus Henke, Geoffrey A. Slipher, and Iain A. Anderson, "Rubbery computing," Proc. SPIE 10163, Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) 2017, 101632H (Presented at SPIE Smart Structures and Materials + Nondestructive Evaluation and Health Monitoring: March 30, 2017; Published: 17 April 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2260393.
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