Saddle-like deformation in a dielectric elastomer actuator embedded with liquid-phase gallium-indium electrodes
We introduce a dielectric elastomer actuator (DEA) composed of liquid-phase Gallium-Indium (GaIn) alloy electrodes embedded between layers of poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) and examine its mechanics using a specialized elastic shell theory. Residual stresses in thedielectric and sealing layers of PDMS cause the DEA to deform into a saddle-like geometry (Gaussian curvature K<0 ). Applying voltage Φ to the liquid metal electrodes induceselectrostatic pressure (Maxwell stress) on the dielectric and relieves some of the residual stress. This reduces the longitudinal bending curvature and corresponding angle of deflection ϑ. Treating the elastomer as an incompressible, isotropic, NeoHookean solid, we develop a theorybased on the principle of minimum potential energy to predict the principal curvatures as a function of Φ . Based on this theory, we predict a dependency of ϑ on Φ that is in strong agreement with experimental measurements performed on a GaIn-PDMS composite. By accurately modeling electromechanical coupling in a soft-matter DEA, this theory can inform improvements in design and fabrication.