Dielectric Electro-Active Polymers (DEAP’s) have become attractive material for various actuation and sensing applications such as light weight and energy efficient valve and pumping systems. The materials ability to act as both and actuator and a sensor enable DEAP actuators to have “self-sensing” capabilities. This advancement provides low cost actuator systems that do not require external sensors for feedback control. This paper explores the capacitive sensing capabilities of a DEAP actuator under loading conditions typical for pumping and valve applications. The capacitive sensing capabilities of the actuator are tested using a method similar to that used by Jung et al. [1] which uses the DEAP actuator as a variable capacitor in a high pass filter circuit. This sensing circuit produces a direct voltage output when the actuator is displaced. The sensing response of this system is experimentally investigated under mechanical loading. The sensor is shown to have an effective sensitivity of .041 (V/Vexc) / mm. In addition, the initial results of a dual sensing and actuating system are presented.

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