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research-article

Soft Freestanding Planar Artificial Muscle based on Dielectric Elastomer Actuator

[+] Author and Article Information
Lei Qin

Department of Mechanical Engineering, National University of Singapore, 9 Engineering Drive 1, 117575, Singapore
a0078077@u.nus.edu

Jiawei Cao

Department of Mechanical Engineering, National University of Singapore, 9 Engineering Drive 1, 117575, Singapore
a0132548@u.nus.edu

Yucheng Tang

School of Mechanical Engineering, Nanjing University of Science and Technology, Nanjing 210094, P. R. China
tang_yucheng@yahoo.com

Jian Zhu

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

1Corresponding author.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4039289 History: Received December 08, 2017; Revised February 03, 2018

Abstract

Dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs) exhibit interesting muscle-like attributes including large voltage-induced deformation and high energy density, thus can function as artificial muscles for soft robots/devices. This paper focuses on soft planar DEAs, which have extensive applications such as artificial muscles for jaw movement, stretchers for cell mechanotransduction, and vibration shakers for tactile feedback, etc. Specifically, we develop a soft planar DEA, in which compression springs are employed to make the entire structure freestanding. This soft freestanding actuator can achieve both linear actuation and turning without increasing the size, weight or structural complexity, which makes the actuator suitable for driving a soft crawling robot. Furthermore, its simple structure and homogeneous deformation allow for analytic modeling, which can be used to interpret the large voltage-induced deformation and interesting mechanics phenomenon (i.e., wrinkling and electromechanical instability). A preliminary demonstration showcases that this soft planar actuator can be employed as an artificial muscle to drive a soft crawling robot.

Copyright (c) 2018 by ASME
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