High-cycle electromechanical aging of dielectric elastomer actuators with carbon-based electrodes

We present high-cycle aging tests of Dielectric Elastomer Actuators (DEAs) based on silicone elastomers, reporting on the time-evolution of actuation strain and of electrode resistance over millions of cycles. We compare several types of carbon-based electrodes, and for the first time show how the choice of electrode has a dramatic influence on DEA aging. An expanding circle DEA configuration is used, consisting of a commercial silicone membrane with the following electrodes: commercial carbon grease applied manually, solvent-diluted carbon grease applied by stamping (pad printing), loose carbon black powder applied manually, carbon black powder suspension applied by inkjet-printing, and conductive silicone-carbon composite applied by stamping. The silicone-based DEAs with manually applied carbon grease electrodes show the shortest lifetime of less than 10<sup>5</sup> cycles at 5% strain, while the inkjet-printed carbon powder and the stamped silicone-carbon composite make for the most reliable devices, with lifetimes greater than 10<sup>7</sup> cycles at 5% strain. These results are valid for the specific dielectric and electrode configurations that were tested: using other dielectrics or electrode formulations would lead to different lifetimes and failure modes. We find that aging (as seen in the change in resistance and in actuation strain vs. cycle number) is independent of the actuation frequency from 10 Hz to 200 Hz, and depends on the total accumulated time the DEA spends in an actuated state.

Published in:
Smart Materials and Structures, 27, 7
Institute of Physics

Note: The status of this file is: EPFL only

 Record created 2017-12-06, last modified 2019-03-17

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