iMSL – Intelligent Material Systems Lab – Lehrstuhl für intelligente Materialsysteme an der Universität des Saarlandes

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High-frequency voltage-driven vibrations in dielectric elastomer membranes

This article deals with modelling and experimental characterisation of the continuum dynamic response of dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs) subject to high-frequency voltage excitation. DEAs are capable of large deformations in response to an electrostatic stimulus, and they show large operating bandwidths of up to a few kilohertz. Although DEA systems normally make use of simple deformation patterns and a well-defined main actuation mode, they show complex structural dynamics and mode shapes if subject to high frequency voltage inputs. Taking advantage of these complex structural dynamics potentially allows developing multi-function actuators, audio devices and vibration isolators capable to perform different tasks using different vibration regimes. We first present a multi-domain model for the structural dynamics of DEAs, accounting for the contribution of the air pressure loads generated the DEA membrane vibrations, which play a relevant role in the DEA dynamics. We then present an extensive experimental characterisation of DEA samples’ structural dynamics based on laser Doppler vibrometer measurements. In particular, we measure the complex structural mode shapes and the velocity spectra generated through a broadband excitation in correspondence of a wide set of different design and control parameters (namely, the DEA geometric layout, the mechanical-preload and the applied voltage bias). Based on the experimental results, we validate the proposed continuum model, and we demonstrate that the forced response of the DEA can be efficiently described using a lumped-parameter computationally efficient reduced reformulation.

aDepartment of Systems Engineering, Saarland University, Saarbrücken, Germany
bInstitute of Mechanical Intelligence, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy