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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

Dielectric Elastomers

AE 510: Research Project Presentation

By: Carl Johnson

October 22, 2002

how dielectric elastomers work
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

governing equation of dielectric elastomers
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
advantages of dielectric elastomers
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
dielectric elastomer comparison chart
Dielectric Elastomer Comparison Chart

Shape Memory Alloys


Dielectric Elastomers

Note Similarity of Dielectric Elastomers and Natural Muscle

applications actuators
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)
applications heel strike generator
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)
  • 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.