Harnessing snap-through instability in soft dielectrics to achieve giant voltage-triggered deformation
A soft dielectric membrane is prone to snap-through instability. We present theory and experiment to show that the instability can be harnessed to achieve giant voltage-triggered deformation. We mount a membrane on a chamber of a suitable volume, pressurize the membrane into a state near the verge of the instability, and apply a voltage to trigger the snap without causing electrical breakdown. For an acrylic membrane we demonstrate voltage-triggered expansion of area by 1692%, far beyond the largest value reported in the literature. The large expansion can even be retained after the voltage is switched off.