A majority of dielectric elastomers (DE) developed so far have more or less viscoelastic properties. Understanding the dynamic behaviors of DE is crucial for devices where inertial effects cannot be neglected. Through construction of a dissipation function, we applied the Lagrange's method and theory of nonequilibrium thermodynamics of DE and formulated a physics-based approach for dynamics of viscoelastic DE. We revisited the nonlinear oscillation of DE balloons and proposed a combined shooting and arc-length continuation method to solve the highly nonlinear equations. Both stable and unstable periodic solutions, along with bifurcation and jump phenomenon, were captured successfully when the excitation frequency was tuned over a wide range of variation. The calculated frequency–amplitude curve indicates existence of both harmonic and superharmonic resonances, soft-spring behavior, and hysteresis. The underlying physics and nonlinear dynamics of viscoelastic DE would aid the design and control of DE enabled soft machines.

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