9 April 2013 Anticipating electrical breakdown in dielectric elastomer actuators
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The output strain of a dielectric elastomer actuator is directly proportional to the square of its applied electric field. However, since the likelihood of electric breakdown is elevated with an increased applied field, the maximum operating electric field of the dielectric elastomer is significantly derated in systems employing these actuators so that failure due to breakdown remains unlikely even as the material ages. In an effort to ascertain the dielectric strength so that stronger electric fields can be applied, partial discharge testing is used to assess the health of the actuator by detecting the charge that is released when localized instances of breakdown partially bridge the insulator. Pre-stretched and unstretched samples of VHB4910 tape were submerged in dielectric oil to remove external sources of partial discharges during testing, and the partial discharge patterns were recorded just before failure of the dielectric sample.
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Daniel P. Muffoletto, Daniel P. Muffoletto, Kevin M. Burke, Kevin M. Burke, Jennifer L. Zirnheld, Jennifer L. Zirnheld, "Anticipating electrical breakdown in dielectric elastomer actuators", Proc. SPIE 8687, Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) 2013, 86870U (9 April 2013); doi: 10.1117/12.2009932; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2009932

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