Actuated elastomers with rigid vertical electrodes

  • Lau G
  • Goosen J
  • Van Keulen F
 et al. 
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This paper presents a novel design of actuated elastomers using rigid,
vertical standing electrodes. The electrodes of high rigidity are designed to
have small width, small gaps and large depth in order to produce large
electrostatic forces at a moderate voltage, as well as to reduce the
constraining effect on the soft elastomers. This novel design embodies
lateral stacking to accumulate small strain into an adequate displacement for
micro-actuation. Analytical and numerical analyses are performed to
evaluate the force–displacement characteristics of the elastomer actuators. It
is shown that actuation of the novel design is not limited by the electrostatic
pull-in instability, and it is capable of travelling a large range at a high
electric field. In addition, feasibility of fabrication processes is studied. It is
shown that lateral stacking can readily be realized by filling liquid
elastomers into deep, narrow and vertical trenches. A theoretical benchmark
comparison with a conventional air-gap electrostatic comb drive indicates
that the new elastomer actuator promises great flexibility, large attraction
force and robustness against shock and dust blockage.

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