Mm-size bistable zipping dielectric elastomer actuators for integrated microfluidics
We report on a new structure of Dielectric Elastomer Actuators (DEAs) called zipping DEAs, which have a set of unique characteristics that are a good match for the requirements of electrically-powered integrated microfluidic pumping and/or valving units as well as Braille displays. The zipping DEAs operate by pulling electrostatically an elastomer membrane in contact with the rigid sidewalls of a sloped chamber. In this work, we report on fully functional mm-size zipping DEAs that demonstrate a complete sealing of the chamber sidewalls and a tunable bistable behavior, and compare the measurements with an analytical model. Compared to our first generation of devices, we are able vary the sidewall angle and benefit therefore from more flexibility to study the requirements to make fully functional actuators. In particular, we show that with Nusil CF19 as membrane material (1.2 MPa Young’s modulus), it is possible to zip completely 2.3 mm diameter chambers with 15° and 21° sidewalls angle equibiaxially prestretched to λ0=1.12 and 15° chambers with λ0=1.27.