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Dielectric Elastomers. AE 510: Research Project Presentation By: Carl Johnson October 22, 2002. How Dielectric Elastomers Work. Dielectric Elastomers have a polymer (aka plastic) film between two electrodes

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Dielectric elastomers l.jpg

Dielectric Elastomers

AE 510: Research Project Presentation

By: Carl Johnson

October 22, 2002

How dielectric elastomers work l.jpg
How Dielectric Elastomers Work

  • Dielectric Elastomers have a polymer (aka plastic) film between two electrodes

  • When an electric field is induced between the electrodes the electrostatic forces cause a change in shape (see figure)

Ref. 1

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Governing Equation of Dielectric Elastomers


  • Where:

    • p is effective compressive stress

    • e is relative dielectric constant

    • e0 is permittivity of free space (a constant)

    • E is strength of electric field between diodes

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Advantages of Dielectric Elastomers

  • Similar materials include:

    • Shape memory alloys (SMA)

    • Piezoelectrics

  • Compared to these dielectric elastomers have:

    • Higher energy density

    • Lower weight

    • Higher efficiencies

    • Higher maximum strains

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Dielectric Elastomer Comparison Chart

Shape Memory Alloys


Dielectric Elastomers

Note Similarity of Dielectric Elastomers and Natural Muscle

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Applications: Actuators

  • Dielectric elastomers are well suited to actuators

  • Their similarity to natural muscle makes them ideal for use on robots (see right)

  • They could also be used to motivate insect-like micro UAVs

  • Dielectric elastomers could be used for human prostheses and make the six million dollar man a reality (see title slide)

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Applications: Heel-Strike Generator

  • DoD is using dielectric elastomers to develop a heel-strike generator to go in soldiers boots that would generate electricity just from walking

  • A dielectric elastomer generator works like an actuator in reverse (mechanical-to-electrical instead of electrical-to-mechanical energy)

References l.jpg

  • Pelrine, Ron et al. “High Strain Actuator Materials Based on Dielectric Elastomers.” SRI International. 2000.

  • Wingert, Andrew et al. “Hyper-Redundant Robot Manipulators Actuated by Optimized Binary Dielectric Elastomers.” Smart Structures and Materials Symposium 2002.

  • http://ndeaa.jpl.nasa.gov/nasa-nde/lommas/eap/EAP-web.htm. SRI International Comparison Tables/Charts. 2002.

  • Bar-Cohen, Yoseph. “Electroactive Polymers as Artificial Muscles – Capabilities, Potentials and Challenges.” Robotics 2000 and Space 2000. Albuquerque, NM. 2000.

  • Pelrine, Ron. And Kornbluh, Roy. “Recent Progress in Heel-strike Generators using Electroactive Polymers.” www.darpa.mil/dso/thrust/md/energy/briefings/5sri.pdf

  • Zorpette, Glenn. “Fly on the Wall.” Red Herring Magazine. October 2000.