Electrically Controlled, Shape Morphing Dielectric Elastomer Devices
Soft materials, such as elastomers, can be used as actuators and provide much larger dimensional changes, compared to piezoelectric and electrostrictive materials. However, these dimensional changes in elastomers do not result in more complex shape changes. For instance, one cannot create a three-dimensional shape with the application of a voltage from an initial two-dimensional shape.
This invention offers solutions for producing more complex shapes on dielectric elastomers, by using staggered electrodes, different shaped electrodes, and combinations of electrode shapes and stiffening features. Currently, actuators based on dielectric elastomers cannot morph in shape. This technology enables morphing of an initially flat elastomer sheet into shapes of different curvatures.
Intellectual Property Status: Patent(s) Pending
Shape-morphing dielectric elastomers can lead to novel capabilities such as shape-morphing wings and bodies. In combination with internal power supplies and sensors, a variety of motion in response to a sensed signal can be envisaged.