Rolled dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs) are subjected to necking and non-uniform deformation upon pre-stress relaxation. Though rolled up from flat DEAs, they performed much poorer than the flat ones. Their electrically induced axial strains were previously reported as not more than 37.3%, while the flat ones produced greater than 100% strain. Often, the rolled DEAs succumb to premature breakdown before they can realize the full actuation potential like the flat ones do. This study shows that oil encapsulation, together with large hoop pre-stretch, helps single-wound rolled DEAs, which are also known as tubular DEAs, suppress premature breakdown. Consequently, the oil-encapsulated tubular DEAs can sustain higher electric fields, and thus produce larger isotonic strain and higher isometric stress change. Under isotonic testing, they sustained very high electric fields of up to 712.7 MV m-1, which is approximately 50% higher than those of the dry tubular DEAs. They produced up to 55.4% axial isotonic strain despite axially stiffening by the passive oil capsules. In addition, due to the use of large hoop pre-stretch, even the dry tubular DEAs without oil encapsulation achieved a very large axial strain of up to 84.2% compared to previous works. Under isometric testing, the oil-encapsulated tubular DEA with enhanced breakdown strength produced an axial stress change of up to nearly 0.6 MPa, which is 114% higher than that produced by the dry ones. In conclusion, the oil encapsulation and large pre-stretch help realize fuller actuation potential of tubular dielectric elastomer, which is subjected to initially non-uniform deformation.
- Maxwell stress
- dielectric elastomer actuator
- dielectric strength
- electrical breakdown
- oil encapsulation