Dielectric electro-active polymers (DEAP) are an attractive material for use in actuator technologies due to their lightweight, high energy density, high energy efficiency, scalability and low noise features. In real world applications, DEAP actuators and sensors will be subjected to various environmental conditions such as changing temperatures. The effects of these environmental changes need to be understood in order to not only optimize performance, but also document environmental limitations and possibly protect against or compensate for them. This paper presents a systematic experimental investigation of the mechanical and electrical behavior of a silicone based DEAP actuator/sensor under varying controlled temperature conditions. Measurements are performed in a climactic chamber with controlled temperatures from −10 to +60 °C. During these tests, a particular focus was placed on the mechanical hysteresis and viscoelastic effects for actuator performance and on the changes in capacitance for sensor performance. For various constant temperatures, the DEAP was subjected to out of plane displacement loading, while the force and capacitance was measured. The effects of the viscous component of the viscoelastic DEAP material is shown to decrease with increased temperature. The capacitance of the DEAP is also shown to decrease with increased temperature. These results will effect actuator and sensor performance respectively and will be used for DEAP application design considerations and improve future modeling efforts.

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