Electrospraying and ultraviolet light curing of nanometer-thin polydimethylsiloxane membranes for low-voltage dielectric elastomer transducers

Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (2017), 101631E

B Osmani, T Töpper, M Siketanc, G M Kovacs, and B Müller

A number of applications such as tunable optics, microfluidics, or soft robotics show growing interest in soft dielectric elastomer transducers. Still, such transducers require actuation voltages of hundreds of volts to obtain the required compressive strain. For biomedical applications, however, only a few tens of volts may be applied to such transducers. The achievable compressive strain of dielectric elastomer transducers increases with decreasing film thickness and elastic modulus.
In this publication, Osmani et al. from the Biomaterials Science Center of the University Basel report the fabrication of smooth and soft dielectric elastomer films with thickness of 1 µm and below for application in multilayer dielectric elastomer transducers. In this study, the Flex-ANA system was used to characterize the effect of UV irradiation on the elastic modulus of the thin films. Depending on the UV irradiation time, elastic moduli of the polymer films of only a few hundred kPa could be obtained, approaching the elastic modulus of human tissue.
Additionally, the FlexAFM was used to evaluate the films' surface roughness and to induce scratches for film thickness determination.

For further information on the usage of the Flex-ANA system in dielectric elastomer transducer research please also consider: