Dielectric elastomer composites

L. Tian, L. Tevet-Deree, G. Debotton, K. Bhattacharya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The coupled electromechanical response of electroactive dielectric composites is examined in the setting of small deformation and moderate electric field. In this setting, the mechanical stress depends quadratically on the electric field through a combination of material electrostriction and Maxwell stress. It is rigorously shown that the macroscopic mechanical stress of the composite also depends quadratically on the macroscopic electric field. It is further demonstrated that the effective electromechanical coupling can be computed from the examination of the uncoupled electrostatic and elastic problems. The resulting expressions suggest that the effective electromechanical coupling may be very large for microstructures that lead to significant fluctuations of the electric field. This idea is explored through examples involving sequential laminates. It is demonstrated that the electromechanical coupling the macroscopic strain induced in the composite through the application of a unit electric field can be amplified by many orders of magnitude by either a combination of constituent materials with high contrast or by making a highly complex and polydisperse microstructure. These findings suggest a path forward for overcoming the main limitation hindering the development of electroactive polymers.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)181-198
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2012


  • EAP
  • Electroactive dielectrics
  • Electromechanical coupling
  • Homogenization
  • Maxwell stress

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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