Funded Research Projects
Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant
The DEtune project is an H2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie individual fellowship granted to Dr. Giacomo Moretti and the University of Saarland. The project aims to develop new loudspeakers, in which the vibrating diaphragm and the actuator are combined into a soft membrane of dielectric elastomer (DE), which can be adapted to arbitrary shapes or integrated into wearable textile structures. Compared to conventional acoustic devices, DE-based loudspeakers take advantage of vibrations induced by direct application of a voltage on the acoustic diaphragm, with no need for external actuators. Theoretical background on continuum vibrations in DE membranes will be first developed through modelling and experimental investigation with laser vibrometry equipment. Multi-physics models of the acoustic-structure interaction of the DE diaphragms will be set-up. Demonstrator concepts of soft loudspeakers will be finally built, leveraging on the features of DEs. In particular, the possibility of tailoring the acoustic response via arrays of independent DE emitting surfaces will be investigated. Moreover, multi-function DE actuator concepts will be studied, capable of implementing a low-frequency actuation task and generating an acoustic signal at the same time.
Duration: 2020 - 2022 (24 months)
Project Team: Dr. Giacomo Moretti
DFG SPP 2206 KOMMMA – Cooperative Multistage Multistable Microactuator Systems
The objective of this proposal is the development of a novel highly flexible, large-stroke multi-segment micro-actuator system based on layers of dielectric elastomer (DE) arrays and multi-stable shape memory polymers (SMP). Novel modeling and design tools accounting for the strong electromechanical coupling between cooperating segments as well as for inherent self-sensing capabilities of individual actuator segments will be developed. These tools will enable a systematic, application-oriented design on the one hand, while also serving as a basis for sensorless distributed control methods for cooperative actuation to be developed in a future phase of the SPP. The design of novel multi-stable bias mechanisms from SMP film layers will be a result from the tools as well as an application-oriented electrode geometry of the DE segments. The multi-stable bias will be manufactured by appropriately shape setting the SMPs, resulting in energy-efficient large-stroke actuation. The electrode patterns will be applied through novel sputtering techniques which will be developed during the project, enabling large strokes and high compliance while maintaining high electrical conductivity. The work will be organized into three projects which will be conducted in parallel by three groups, two of which from Systems Engineering/Material Science & Engineering at Saarland University, and one of which from Saarland University of Applied Sciences (htw saar). The first group (Rizzello) will focus on developing micro-scale models to allow for systematic design and self-sensing strategies for arrays of interacting DE membrane actuators, and enable cooperative control design in a future stage. At the same time, the second group (Seelecke) will develop new design concepts and miniaturization strategies for multistable distributed actuators, as well as integrated driving/sensing electronics. Finally, the third group (Schultes) will address aspects related to material and design of compliant micro-structured electrodes necessary for localized activation of segmented DE membranes. The complementary expertise of the three groups will cover different aspects of DE technology which are required for the achievement of the target cooperative actuator system, ensuring the multidisciplinary approach needed for a successful concept development. In addition, the common location in Saarbrücken will ensure a close and synergistic collaboration for the entire project duration.
Duration: 2019 - 2022 (36 months)
Project Team: Sipontina Croce, Jonas Jubertus (HTW Saar), Julian Neu
DFG SPP 2100 SMRS - Soft Material Robotic Systems
The main objective of this proposal is the development of a soft actuator/sensor robotic system based on dielectric elastomer (DE) materials. Due to their intrinsic compliance and ability to work as actuators and sensors simultaneously (self-sensing), DEs appear as ideal candidates for the development of novel solutions for soft machines not achievable with standard transduction technologies. The proposed research work will be organized into two projects, which will be conducted in parallel by two groups from Systems Engineering/Material Science & Engineering at Saarland University, Saarbrücken. The first group (Seelecke) will focus on hardware aspects for multi-degree of freedom actuation/sensing based on DE transducers, and will design, fabricate, and systematically validate concepts for innovative soft robotic systems. At the same time, the second group (Rizzello) will develop novel mathematical models, control concepts, and self-sensing algorithms suitable for soft DE robotic systems. The complementary expertise of the two groups will cover different aspects of DE-based soft robotics, ensuring the multidisciplinary approach needed for a successful concept development. In addition, the common location at Saarland University will ensure a close and synergistic collaboration for the entire project duration.
Duration: 2019 - 2022 (36 months)
Project Team: Matthias Baltes, Julian Kunze, Johannes Prechtl