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Stretchable and Transparent Hydrogels as Soft Conductors for Dielectric Elastomer Actuators

       A soft ionic conductor can serve as an artificial nerve in an artificial muscle. A polyacrylamide hydrogel is synthesized containing a hygroscopic salt, lithium chloride. Two layers of the hydrogel are used as ionic conductors to sandwich a dielectric elastomer and fabricate a highly stretchable and transparent actuator. When the two layers of the hydrogels are subject to a voltage, the actuator reduces its thickness and expands. An areal strain of 134% is demonstrated.

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