Soft electroactive materials including dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) gels have recently been extensively investigated. These smart materials can effectively respond to an electric field, resulting in shape deformation. In addition to artificial muscles, actuators, sensors, and micro-electromechanical systems, they can be used to prepare various adaptive lenses with unique features such as a simple fabrication, compact structure, good flexibility, and light weight. In contrast to DEAs, PVC gels can provide exciting opportunities for emerging applications in imaging, sensing, optical communication, biomedical engineering, and displays. In this review paper, the underlying physical mechanisms of these two electroactive materials are explained first, and then some recent progress in their application in macro-sized lenses and microlens arrays is presented. Finally, future perspectives of the PVC gels are discussed.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited