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.
The objective of this research was to describe and characterize the performance of an innovative new method of actuating a synthetic jet. This particular method utilizes a pre-strained dielectric elastomer membrane excited to operate at resonance. The paper describes the mechanism by which the actuator operates, the experimental techniques used to characterize it and discusses the results of the characterization. A series of experiments were devised to capture the influence of specific device parameters on the actuator system performance. The device parameters considered were: chamber volume, orifice diameter, orifice length, electrode area, excitation frequency, and excitation amplitude. Six metrics were collected for each of the tests: membrane displacement, chamber pressure, exit velocity, auditory signal, supply voltage, and supply current. Based on the cases tested, peak attainable orifice velocity was experimentally determined to be approximately 17 m/s, though the authors believe this can be significantly increased. Basic system design guidelines were also determined, and directions for future work have been identified.