Modeling of dielectric elastomers: Design of actuators and energy harvesting devices

David L. Henann, Shawn A. Chester, Katia Bertoldi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


Dielectric elastomers undergo large deformations in response to an electric field and consequently have attracted significant interest as electromechanical transducers. Applications of these materials include actuators capable of converting an applied electric field into mechanical motion and energy harvesting devices that convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. Numerically based design tools are needed to facilitate the development and optimization of these devices. In this paper, we report on our modeling capability for dielectric elastomers. We present the governing equations for the electromechanically coupled behavior of dielectric elastomers in a thermodynamic framework and discuss the attendant finite-element formulation and implementation, using a commercial finite-element code. We then utilize our simulation capability to design and optimize complex dielectric elastomeric actuators and energy harvesting devices in various settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2047-2066
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


  • Actuators
  • Dielectric elastomers
  • Energy harvesting devices
  • Finite-element method
  • Large deformations


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