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Dielectric elastomer actuators


Volume 1, Issue 1 (2021) –

Cover Picture: The dielectric elastomer actuator (DEA) is one type of emerging soft actuator that has the attractive features of large actuation strains, high energy density, and inherent compliance, which is desirable for novel bio-inspired and soft robotic applications. Due to their inherent elasticity, when stimulated by an alternating current voltage with a frequency matching the natural frequency of the DEA system, the DEAs can exhibit resonant responses which maximize the oscillation amplitude. Silicone elastomers are widely utilized for resonant actuation applications for their reduced viscous damping hence better dynamic performance compared to VHB elastomers. However, the low pre-stretch ratios adopted by silicone elastomers could induce loss-of-tension of the mem-branes in high amplitude oscillations, yet its effects on the dynamic responses of a DEA are not fully understood. By using a numerical dynamic model, this work studies the effects of the loss-of-tension on the frequency response of the antagonistic pure-shear DEAs. A subharmonic frequency response curve isolated from the main response branch is uncovered for the first time in a parametrically forced DEA system, which causes a sudden jump in the oscillation amplitude and serves as a severe threat to the dynamic stability and controllability of the DEA system. By using a global analysis method, the evolution of the isolated response curve against the excitation components and system physical parameters is also investigated numerically.
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