In this paper, the emerging technology of energy harvesting based on dielectric elastomers (DE), a new type of
functional materials belonging to the family of Electroactive Polymers (EAPs), is presented with emphasis on its
performance characteristics and some key influencing factors. At first, on the basic principle of DE energy harvesting,
the effects of some control parameters are theoretically analyzed under certain mechanical and electrical constraints.
Then, a type of annular DE generator using the commercial elastomers of VHB 4910 (3M, USA), is specially designed
and fabricated. A series of experimental tests for the device’s energy harvesting performance are implemented at
different pre-stretch ratios, stretch amplitudes (displacements), and bias voltages in the constant charge (open-circuit)
condition. The experiment results demonstrate the associated influence laws of the above control parameters on the
performance of the DE generator, and have good consistent with those obtained from the theoretical analysis. This study
is expected to provide a helpful guidance for the design and operation of practical DE energy harvesting devices/systems.