Axial force transmission in flexible bowtie dielectric elastomer actuators

Gih Keong Lau*, Fa Yi Chen, Zhe Xian Ren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


A long strip of a pre-stretched dielectric elastomer actuator (DEA) is necessary for strain accumulation, but it relaxes laterally and thickens non-uniformly. As compared to a short strip under the same voltage activation, the long relaxed strip is subjected to a less electric field and, thus, undergoes less active strain. Here, we developed a flexible ladder frame to reinforce and divide the long DEA in a bowtie series. When being pulled, the ladder frame unbuckled; it, in turn, helped to pre-stretch tautly the DEA membrane. Interestingly, its flanges enhance force transmissions, acting like tensioning cables for a suspension bridge. Hence, the maximum isometric stress of this bowtie series was 24% higher than the short pure-shear one and 6.5 times the long uniaxial one. With 2.2 times enhanced dielectric strength across a taut DEA membrane, the bowtie series generated an isotonic strain 3.2 times that a long non-reinforced and relaxed DEA did. Hence, the reinforced DEAs can provide a more forceful drive for bio-inspired robots.

Original languageEnglish
Article number012903
JournalApplied Physics Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - 3 Jan 2022


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