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A versatile method for enhancement of electromechanical sensitivity of silicone elastomers

: Risse, S.; Kussmaul, B.; Krüger, H.; Kofod, G.


RSC Advances 2 (2012), Nr.24, S.9029-9035
ISSN: 2046-2069
Fraunhofer IAP ()

Dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs) draw their function from their dielectric and mechanical properties. The paper describes the fabrication and various properties of molecularly grafted silicone elastomer films. This was achieved by addition of high-dipole molecular co-substituents to off-the-shelf silicone elastomer kits, Elastosil RT 625 and Sylgard 184 by Wacker and Dow Corning, respectively. Strong push-pull dipoles were chemically grafted to both polymer networks during a one step film formation process. All manufactured films were characterized using (13) C-NMR and FT-IR spectroscopy, confirming a successful attachment of the dipoles to the silicone network. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) results showed that grafted dipoles were distributed homogeneously throughout the material avoiding the formation of nano-scale aggregates. The permittivity increased with the amount of dipole at all frequencies, while the Young's modulus and electrical breakdown strength were reduced. Actuation strain measurements in the pure shear configuration independently confirmed the increase in electromechanical sensitivity. The ability to enhance electromechanical properties of off-the-shelf materials could strongly expand the range of actuator properties available to researchers and end-users.