Supersonic cluster beam implantation of Ag nanoparticles is proposed for the fabrication of stretchable and compliant electrodes for dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs) with reduced thickness. Thanks to the low-energy and finely tunable implantation process, a nanocomposite Ag/polydimethylsiloxane electrode layer is produced with a moderate stiffening effect for the DEA in contrast with a common deposition strategy for electrodes. Thin DEAs with an overall thickness of 17 μm were fabricated and tested under different preloading conditions, demonstrating a max uniaxial actuation strain of 2.5% at an actuation voltage of 765 V, lower than the typical voltage values of DEAs. The electrodes remained conductive up to 40% strain, and they fully recovered the original resistance after 70% stretching. Our results represent a significant step towards the development of DEAs operating at reduced actuation voltages, by stacking of micrometer-thick elastomer films, paving the way to novel applications in soft robotics.
Taccola, S., Bellacicca, A., Milani, P., Beccai, L., & Greco, F. (2018). Low-voltage dielectric elastomer actuators with stretchable electrodes fabricated by supersonic cluster beam implantation. Journal of Applied Physics, 124(6), . https://doi.org/10.1063/1.5038659