Self-healing dielectric elastomers for damage-Tolerant actuation and energy harvesting

Christopher Ellingford, Runan Zhang, Alan M. Wemyss, Yan Zhang, Oliver B. Brown, Hongzhao Zhou, Patrick Keogh, Christopher Bowen, Chaoying Wan

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The actuation and energy-harvesting performance of dielectric elastomers are strongly related to their intrinsic electrical and mechanical properties. For future resilient smart transducers, a fast actuation response, efficient energy-harvesting performance, and mechanical robustness are key requirements. In this work, we demonstrate that poly(styrene-butadiene-styrene) (SBS) can be converted into a self-healing dielectric elastomer with high permittivity and low dielectric loss, which can be deformed to large mechanical strains; these are key requirements for actuation and energy-harvesting applications. Using a one-step click reaction at room temperature for 20 min, methyl-3-mercaptopropionate (M3M) was grafted to SBS and reached 95.2% of grafting ratios. The resultant M3M-SBS can be deformed to a high mechanical strain of 1000%, with a relative permittivity of ϵr = 7.5 and a low tan δ= 0.03. When used in a dielectric actuator, it can provide 9.2% strain at an electric field of 39.5 MV m-1 and can also generate an energy density of 11 mJ g-1 from energy harvesting. After being subjected to mechanical damage, the self-healed elastomer can recover 44% of its breakdown strength during energy harvesting. This work demonstrates a facile route to produce self-healing, high permittivity, and low dielectric loss elastomers for both actuation and energy harvesting, which is applicable to a wide range of diene elastomer systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7595-7604
Number of pages10
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number6
Early online date16 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2020


  • actuation
  • dielectric breakdown strength
  • dielectric elastomer
  • energy harvesting
  • intrinsic self-healing
  • relative permittivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science


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