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Adv Sci (Weinh). 2019 Jun 11;6(14):1900178. doi: 10.1002/advs.201900178. eCollection 2019 Jul 17.

An Easy-to-Implement Toolkit to Create Versatile and High-Performance HASEL Actuators for Untethered Soft Robots.

Author information

1
Department of Mechanical Engineering University of Colorado Boulder Boulder CO 80309 USA.
2
School of Physics Science and Engineering Tongji University Shanghai 200092 China.
3
Department of Electrical Computer & Energy Engineering University of Colorado Boulder Boulder CO 80309 USA.
4
Materials Science and Engineering Program University of Colorado Boulder Boulder CO 80309 USA.

Abstract

For soft robots to have ubiquitous adoption in practical applications they require soft actuators that provide well-rounded actuation performance that parallels natural muscle while being inexpensive and easily fabricated. This manuscript introduces a toolkit to rapidly prototype, manufacture, test, and power various designs of hydraulically amplified self-healing electrostatic (HASEL) actuators with muscle-like performance that achieve all three basic modes of actuation (expansion, contraction, and rotation). This toolkit utilizes easy-to-implement methods, inexpensive fabrication tools, commodity materials, and off-the-shelf high-voltage electronics thereby enabling a wide audience to explore HASEL technology. Remarkably, the actuators created from this easy-to-implement toolkit achieve linear strains exceeding 100%, a specific power greater than 150 W kg-1, and ≈20% strain at frequencies above 100 Hz. This combination of large strain, extreme speed, and high specific power yields soft actuators that jump without power-amplifying mechanisms. Additionally, an efficient fabrication technique is introduced for modular designs of HASEL actuators, which is used to develop soft robotic devices driven by portable electronics. Inspired by the versatility of elephant trunks, the above capabilities are combined to create an untethered continuum robot for grasping and manipulating delicate objects, highlighting the wide potential of the introduced methods for soft robots with increasing sophistication.

KEYWORDS:

HASEL actuators; artificial muscles; bioinspired robots; electroactive polymers; soft robotics

Conflict of interest statement

S.K.M., E.A., N.K., and C.K. are listed as inventors on a U.S. provisional patent application (62/813266) and PCT applications (PCT/US2018/023797 and PCT/US19/020568) which cover fundamentals and basic designs of HASEL actuators as well as methods of fabricating and stacking actuators. S.K.M., E.A., N.K., and C.K. are co‐founders of Artimus Robotics, a start‐up company commercializing HASEL actuators.

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