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Large conversion of energy in dielectric elastomers by electromechanical phase transition

tongqing.lu's picture

When air is pumped in, a tubular balloon initially inflates slightly and homogeneously. A short section of the balloon then forms a bulge, which coexists with the unbulged section of the balloon. As more air is pumped in, the bulged section elongates at the expense of the unbulged section, until the entire balloon is bulged. The phenomenon is analogous to the liquid-to-vapor phase transition. Here we study the bulging transition in a dielectric elastomer tube as air is pumped into the balloon and a voltage is applied through the thickness of the membrane. We formulate the condition for coexistent budged and unbulged sections, and identify allowable states set by electrical breakdown and mechanical rupture. We find that the bulging transition dramatically amplifies electromechanical energy conversion. Energy converted in an electromechanical cycle consisting of unbulged and bulged states is thousands of times that in an electromechanical cycle consisting of only unbulged states.

 

Tongqing Lu, Zhigang Suo. Large conversion of energy in dielectric elastomers by electromechanical phase transition. Acta Mechanica Sinica 28, 1106-1114 (2012).

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