Dielectric elastomer (DE) actuators can convert electrical energy to mechanical energy. However, actuating DE
membranes requires applying high voltage. Continuously applying high voltage on DE actuator causes failures such as
current leakage and electric breakdown. To overcome the high voltage actuation drawbacks of DE actuators, this paper
raises a new actuation method using DE interacting with external elastic structures. The analysis is demonstrated based
on continuum mechanics, and agrees very well with experiment measurements.
Mechanical energy and electrical energy can be converted to each other by using a dielectric elastomer transducer. Large
voltage-induced deformation has been a major challenge in the practical applications. The voltage-induced deformation
of dielectric elastomer is restricted by electromechanical instability (EMI) and electric breakdown. We study the loading
path effect of dielectric elastomer and introduce various methods to achieve giant deformation in dielectric elastomer and
demonstrate the principles of operation in experiments. We use a computational model to analyze the operation of DE
generators and actuators to guide the experiment. In actuator mode, we get three designing parameters to vary the
actuation response of the device, and realize giant deformation with appropriate parameter group. In the generator mode,
energy flows in a device with inhomogeneous deformation is demonstrated.