Special Issue "Smart Dielectric Elastomer Actuator Systems"

A special issue of Actuators (ISSN 2076-0825).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 October 2022 | Viewed by 758

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Stefan Seelecke
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Systems Engineering and Department of Material Science and Engineering, Saarland University, 66119 Saarbrücken, Germany
Interests: smart material systems; actuators; sensors; dielectric elastomers; shape memory alloys; elastocalorics
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Giacomo Moretti
E-Mail Website
Co-Guest Editor
Department of Systems Engineering, Saarland University, 66119 Saarbrücken, Germany
Interests: electroactive polymers; multifunctional actuators; electrostatic actuators; dielectric elastomers; soft robotics; energy harvesting; vibrations
Dr. Paul Motzki
E-Mail Website
Co-Guest Editor
Center for Mechatronics and Automation Technologies gGmbH (ZeMA), Saarland University, 66121 Saarbrücken, Germany
Interests: smart material systems; actuators; sensors; electroactive polymers; shape memory alloys; robotics; handling systems; elastocalorics
Prof. Dr. Gianluca Rizzello
E-Mail Website
Co-Guest Editor
Department of Systems Engineering and Department of Material Science and Engineering, Saarland University, 66121 Saarbruecken, Germany
Interests: mechatronic systems; control systems; modeling; energy-based modeling and control; robust control; motion control; interaction control; self-sensing; smart materials; shape memory alloys; dielectric elastomers; soft actuators; soft robotics

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to invite you to submit your papers to our Special Issue on Smart Dielectric Elastomer Actuator Systems.

The quest for lightweight multifunctional actuator systems, adaptable to different scales and environments and featuring a deep level of integration among actuation unit, sensing system, and algorithmic intelligence, is one of the great challenges of modern research in mechatronics.

Dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs) are among the most promising technologies for the new generation of smart multifunctional systems. Due to their large deformations, inherent compliance, lightweight property, high power density and efficiency, and self-sensing capability, DEAs can excel in tasks which are difficult, if not impossible, to achieve for conventional drives and servo systems.

Combining DEAs with passive mechanical structures, advanced algorithms, and interacting interfaces leads to complex multifunctional systems, capable of implementing a wide diversity of tasks. The unique features of DEA systems make them highly promising, among others, for novel soft robots capable of autonomous operation and safe interaction, smart fluidic drives, lightweight wearable and haptic interfaces, and distributed sound generation devices.

This Special Issue collects novel contributions in the field of multifunctional systems based on DEAs. Submitted manuscripts must contribute theoretical and/or experimental advances.

The topics of interest to the Special Issue include, but are not limited to:

- Advanced DEA applications (acoustics, haptics, soft robotics, wearables);

- New DEA system architectures and layout;

- Multi-actuator and cooperative systems;

- Design, fabrication and optimization of novel DEA-driven systems;

- System-level modelling and simulation;

- Innovative driving/sensing electronics;

- Control concepts for DEA systems;

- Self-sensing and sensorless control;

- Condition monitoring and lifetime assessment.

Prof. Dr. Stefan Seelecke
Dr. Giacomo Moretti
Dr. Paul Motzki
Prof. Dr. Gianluca Rizzello
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Actuators is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs)
  • Dielectric elastomer sensors
  • Dielectric elastomer systems
  • Soft actuators
  • Robotics
  • Acoustics
  • Wearable
  • Modelling
  • Control
  • Simulation
  • Self-sensing

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission, see below for planned papers.

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: High Performance Dielectric Elastomer Actuator with Adjustable Linear Transmission
Authors: Daniel Bruch, Hendrik Schaefer, Tobias Willian, Paul Motzki
Affiliation: Center for Mechatronics and Automation Technologies gGmbH (ZeMA), Saarland University, 66121 Saarbrücken, Germany
Abstract: Dielectric Elastomer Actuators (DEAs) are soft and light-weight electro-mechanical transducers that combine the ability to move loads via electrical field activation and simultaneously observe their state of motion via capacitance measurement. This enables the development of intelligent (smart) actuation systems such as servo drives, valves and pumps, which can be operated in a closed control loop without any additional external sensor. These outstanding properties cause a high level of scientific and industrial interest in DEA-technology. Besides design and feasibility studies as well as system and material optimization, increasing attention is being paid to fabrication and cost optimization of the technology due to the ambition of developing it towards market readiness. Compared to conventional magnetic actuator systems, DEAs are based on inexpensive and widely available (synthetic) plastic materials. The absence of expensive and limited available rare earth and copper materials represents a big competitive advantage, which could be decisive for a potential market launch. However, this advantage could be limited by a large DEA design variety, which is associated with small production quantities and high development and production costs. This holds especially true for high performance DEA systems which feature an optimized energy density due to their combination with negative biasing spring (NBS) mechanisms and always show a fixed force-displacement characteristics, which suits to a specific load profile. To counteract this effect, in this work a specific high-performance DEA-System is combined with rigid body joint based linear transmission mechanics. It enables to manipulate the force-displacement characteristics of the system either towards increasing force and decreasing displacement output or vice versa and therefore to adapt the actuator characteristics to varying load profiles. The system performance can furthermore be scaled via stacking DEA and NBS components without design changes. This approach reduces the diversity and cost of DEA systems by increasing the number of standardized DEA and NBS components. These can thus be used to drive different loads and applications. Specifically, two DEA-Systems based on the same strip-in-plane DEA and the same inclined buckled beam NBS components are introduced in this work, one with transmission ratio of 3:1 and one with transmission ratio of 1:3. They are experimentally evaluated in terms of their force- displacement characteristics and compared to a system without transmission mechanics. Keywords:Electroactive Polymer, Dielectric Elastomer Actuator, Negative Biasing Spring, Adjustable Rigid Body Joint Linear Transmission

Title: Multi-channel high voltage driving electronics for dielectric elastomer transducers (DET) with embedded selfsensing control
Authors: Andreas Hubracht, Abd Elkarim Masoud, Samuel Junglas, and Jürgen Maas
Affiliation: Mechatronic Systems Laboratory, Technische Universität Berlin, Hardenbergstraße 36, 10623 Berlin
Abstract: A small, efficient, smart, and cost-effective multi-channel high voltage driver electronic was developed that can control six channels independently. It demonstrates that sensorless position control is feasible with low-cost electronics, highlights a decisive key advantage for applications with DE while simultaneously dealing with the challenge of high voltage power supply.

Title: Manufacturing Process for Multilayer Dielectric Elastomer Transducers Based on Sheet-to-Sheet Lamination and Contactless Electrode Application
Authors: Tim Krüger, Ozan Çabuk, Jürgen Maas
Affiliation: Mechatronic Systems Laboratory, Technische Universität Berlin, Hardenbergstraße 36,10623 Berlin
Abstract: This work includes the presentation of the overall automated manufacturing process, which is technically realized in a laboratory scale, and the evaluation of the produced transducers quality. Starting with pre-fabricated elastomer roll material, the different manufacturing steps, which are necessary for the transducer production, are presented and explained. Among others, it contains the handling of the starting material, the sheet preparation, the controlled separation of the thin elastomer film from the liner material, the sheet lamination as well as the electrode application. The process’ key features, e.g. the precise lamination process and the electrode application process, are highlighted and considered in more detail. Conducting experiments and simulations are applied to illustrate manufacturing process steps and to identify and evaluate important process parameters. Furthermore, the manufactured transducers are investigated considering mechanical and electrical properties. This contains measuring methods both applied during the manufacturing process and to the final product. Additionally, the presented overall manufacturing process itself as well as its ability for an industrial use, are discussed and conclusions about the established manufacturing process are drawn.

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