Fabrication, modeling, and control of dielectric elastomer actuator: a systematic view
Dielectric elastomer (DE) is an important kind of electro active polymer. Its softness and unique movement generating mechanism make people recognize it as artificial muscle. Existing studies focusing on it have revealed many important properties of this soft material. Fundamental researches show the working principle of how DE material can convert electrical energy and mechanical energy bi-directionally. Various actuators, devices, and robots are also developed to show the great potential of DE material in future applications. However, DE material’s nonlinear visco-elasticity and uncommon configuration in applications pose significant challenge in the developing of practical DE applications. Starting from the very basics of DE material, the working principle, modeling work, and famous applications are reviewed. Based on these fundamental knowledge of DE material, fabrications of two types of DE actuators are attempted, which demonstrate and verify the promising usage of DE material in future’s soft actuator and robotic applications. DE material’s movement generating mechanism also gives the capability of self-sensing. Software methods, including polynomial fitting and artificial neural network, are used to realize the self-sensing function in DE actuator. Different applications of DE actuators are attempted. A DE diaphragm actuator for human pulse tracking purpose is designed, fabricated, and tested. Experimental results show it can convert human pulse data into compliant vibration with good accuracy, which shows it has great potential in future’s medical applications. By patterning the diaphragm actuator’s electrode, a new type of 2-DoF maneuverable lase manipulator is created. The manipulator is capable of tracking 2-DoF angular reference with soft and gearless structure. It is expected that this new type laser manipulator can be used in laser servo system under special environment.
Thesis (Ph.D.)-- Wichita State University, College of Engineering, Dept. of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science