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Open AccessArticle

Implementation of Soft-Lithography Techniques for Fabrication of Bio-Inspired Multi-Layer Dielectric Elastomer Actuators with Interdigitated Mechanically Compliant Electrodes

1
Microsystems Engineering, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY 14623, USA
2
Mechanical Engineering, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY 14623, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Actuators 2018, 7(4), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/act7040073
Received: 4 September 2018 / Revised: 16 October 2018 / Accepted: 17 October 2018 / Published: 21 October 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Electroactive Polymer Actuators for Soft Robotics)
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Abstract

Advancements in software engineering have enabled the robotics industry to transition from the use of giant industrial robots to more friendly humanoid robots. Soft robotics is one of the key elements needed to advance the transition process by providing a safer way for robots to interact with the environment. Electroactive polymers (EAPs) are one of the best candidate materials for the next generation of soft robotic actuators and artificial muscles. Lightweight dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs) provide optimal properties such as high elasticity, rapid response rates, mechanical robustness and compliance. However, for DEAs to become widely used as artificial muscles or soft actuators, there are current limitations, such as high actuation voltage requirements, control of actuation direction, and scaling, that need to be addressed. The authors’ approach to overcome the drawbacks of conventional DEAs is inspired by the natural skeletal muscles. Instead of fabricating a large DEA device, smaller sub-units can be fabricated and bundled together to form larger actuators, similar to the way myofibrils form myocytes in skeletal muscles. The current study presents a novel fabrication approach, utilizing soft lithography and other microfabrication techniques, to allow fabrication of multilayer stacked DEA structures, composed of hundreds of micro-sized DEA units. View Full-Text
Keywords: electroactive polymer; dielectric elastomer; soft actuator; microfabrication; stacked actuators; biomimetic electroactive polymer; dielectric elastomer; soft actuator; microfabrication; stacked actuators; biomimetic
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Corbaci, M.; Walter, W.; Lamkin-Kennard, K. Implementation of Soft-Lithography Techniques for Fabrication of Bio-Inspired Multi-Layer Dielectric Elastomer Actuators with Interdigitated Mechanically Compliant Electrodes. Actuators 2018, 7, 73.

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