Small, fast, and tough: Shrinking down integrated elastomer transducers
We review recent progress in miniaturized dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs), sensors, and energy harvesters. We focus primarily on configurations where the large strain, high compliance, stretchability, and high level of integration offered by dielectric elastomer transducers provide significant advantages over other mm or μm-scale transduction technologies. We first present the most active application areas, including: tunable optics, soft robotics, haptics, micro fluidics, biomedical devices, and stretchable sensors. We then discuss the fabrication challenges related to miniaturization, such as thin membrane fabrication, precise patterning of compliant electrodes, and reliable batch fabrication of multilayer devices. We finally address the impact of miniaturization on strain, force, and driving voltage, as well as the important effect of boundary conditions on the performance of mm-scale DEAs.