The recent discovery of electroactive polymers has shown great promises in the field of soft robotics and was logically followed by experimental, numerical, and theoretical developments. Most of these studies were concerned with systems entirely covered by electrodes. However, there is a growing interest for partially active polymers, in which the electrode covers only one part of the membrane. Indeed, such actuation can trigger buckling instabilities and so represents a route toward the control of three-dimensional shapes. Here, we study theoretically the behavior of such partially active electroactive polymer. We address two problems: (1) the electrostatic elastica including geometric nonlinearities and partially electroactive strip using a variational approach. We propose a new interpretation of the equations of deformation, by drawing analogies with biological growth, in which the effect of the electric voltage is seen as a change in the reference stress-free state. (2) We explain the nature of the distribution of electrostatic forces on this simple system, which is not trivial. In particular, we find that edge effects are playing a major role in this problem.

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Mary Ann Liebert Inc.
The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)
Soft Robotics
Mechanical Metamaterials

Bense, H, Roman, B, Snoeijer, J, & Andreotti, B. (2020). Mechanics and Energetics of Electromembranes. Soft Robotics, 7(6), 675–687. doi:10.1089/soro.2019.0050