Dielectric elastomer membrane has the ability of shrinking the thickness and expanding surface area when a voltage is applied through its thickness. Dielectric elastomer has been widely studied and used as dielectric elastomer actuator (DEA), dielectric elastomer generator (DEG) and dielectric elastomer sensor (DES). We study the behavior of several DEAs connected in series and parallel, and find that the different connecting models can achieve different responses of the DEAs. DEAs connected in series can enhance the actuation, while DEA connected in parallel can enhance the actuation force. In our experiment, DEAs connected in series and parallel are loaded in actuation direction under a dead load providing pre-stretch. We discuss the results of the experiments and give the conclusions.
The natural limbs of animals and insects integrate muscles, skins and neurons, providing both the actuating and sensing functions simultaneously. Inspired by the natural structure, we present a novel structure with integrated function of actuating and sensing with dielectric elastomer (DE) laminates. The structure can deform when subjected to high voltage loading and generate corresponding output signal in return. We investigate the basic physical phenomenon of dielectric elastomer experimentally. It is noted that when applying high voltage, the actuating dielectric elastomer membrane deforms and the sensing dielectric elastomer membrane changes the capacitance in return. Based on the concept, finite element method (FEM) simulation has been conducted to further investigate the electromechanical behavior of the structure.
Three dimensional responsive structures have high value for the application of responsive hydrogels in various fields such as micro fluid control, tissue engineering and micro robot. Whereas various hydrogels with stimuli-responsive behaviors have been developed, designing and fabricating of the three dimensional responsive structures remain challenging. We develop a temperature responsive double network hydrogel with novel fabrication methods to assemble the complex three dimensional responsive structures. The shape changing behavior of the structures can be significantly increased by building blocks with various responsiveness. Mechanical instability is built into the structure with the proper design and enhance the performance of the structure. Finite element simulation are conducted to guide the design and investigate the responsive behavior of the hydrogel structures