Electrical and Mechanical Self‐Healing in High‐Performance Dielectric Elastomer Actuator Materials

Yan Zhang, Christopher Ellingford, Runan Zhang, James Roscow, Margaret Hopkins, Patrick Keogh, Tony McNally, Christopher Bowen, Chaoying Wan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Citations (SciVal)
152 Downloads (Pure)


Dielectric elastomers are of interest for actuator applications due to their large actuation strain, high bandwidth, high energy density, and their flexible nature. If future dielectric elastomers are to be used reliably in applications that include soft robotics, medical devices, artificial muscles, and electronic skins, there is a need to design devices that are tolerant to electrical and mechanical damage. In this paper, the first report of self‐healing of both electrical breakdown and mechanical damage in dielectric actuators using a thermoplastic methyl thioglycolate–modified styrene–butadiene–styrene (MGSBS) elastomer is provided. The self‐healing functions are examined from the material to device level by detailed examination of the healing process, and characterization of electrical properties and actuator response before and after healing. It is demonstrated that after dielectric breakdown, the initial dielectric strength can be recovered by up to 67%, and after mechanical damage, a 39% recovery can be achieved with no degradation of the strain–voltage response of the actuators. The elastomer can also heal a combination of mechanical and electrical failures. This work provides a route to create robust and damage tolerant dielectric elastomers for soft robotic and other applications related to actuator and energy‐harvesting systems.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1808431
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number15
Early online date21 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2019


  • actuation
  • breakdown recovery
  • dielectric elastomer
  • electric breakdown and mechanical damage
  • self-healing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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