PerspectiveMaterials Science

Stretching Dielectric Elastomer Performance

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Science  24 Dec 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6012, pp. 1759-1761
DOI: 10.1126/science.1194773

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The idea that a solid material can deform when stimulated by electricity originated in the late-18th century with observations of ruptures in overcharged Leyden jars, the first electrical capacitors. In 1776, Italian scientist Alessandro Volta mentioned in a letter that Italian experimenter Felice Fontana had noted volume changes in the Leyden jar upon electrification (1), an observation that launched a new field of investigation—“deformable” materials affected by electricity. More than two centuries later, the concept of “electrically stretchable materials” is at the forefront of devising bioinspired robots, tactile and haptic interfaces, and adaptive optical systems (2, 3).