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research-article

Harnessing dielectric breakdown of dielectric elastomer to achieve large actuation

[+] Author and Article Information
Hui Zhang

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Southeast University, 2 Si Pai Lou, Nanjing, 210096, P. R. China
230139323@seu.edu.cn

Yingxi Wang

Department of Mechanical Engineering, National University of Singapore, 9 Engineering Drive 1, 117575, Singapore
mpewyxi@nus.edu.sg

Hareesh Godaba

Department of Mechanical Engineering, National University of Singapore, 9 Engineering Drive 1, 117575, Singapore
Hareesh@u.nus.edu

Boo Cheong Khoo

Department of Mechanical Engineering, National University of Singapore, 9 Engineering Drive 1, 117575, Singapore
mpekbc@nus.edu.sg

Zhisheng Zhang

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Southeast University, 2 Si Pai Lou, Nanjing, 210096, P. R. China
oldbc@seu.edu.cn

Jian Zhu

Department of Mechanical Engineering, National University of Singapore, 9 Engineering Drive 1, 117575, Singapore
mpezhuj@nus.edu.sg

1Corresponding author.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4038174 History: Received September 01, 2017; Revised October 09, 2017

Abstract

It is an interesting open question how to achieve large actuation of a dielectric elastomer. In many previous works, in order to harness snap-through instability to achieve large deformation, a reservoir was employed to assist the dielectric elastomer actuator to optimize its loading condition/path, which makes the whole actuation system bulky and heavy. In this paper, we explore large actuation of a dielectric elastomer balloon with applications to a soft flight system. The balloon consists of two separate dielectric elastomer actuators. The inner one is stiffer, while the outer one softer. The whole actuation system has a small volume and a low weight, but can achieve large actuation by harnessing dielectric breakdown of the inner elastomer. The volume induced by dielectric breakdown is more than 20 times the voltage-induced volume change of dielectric elastomer actuators. The experiments demonstrate a soft flight system, which can move effectively in air by taking advantage of large actuation of this dielectric elastomer balloon. This project also shows that failure of materials can be harnessed to achieve useful functionalities.

Copyright (c) 2017 by ASME
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