Mechatronic applications require actuation devices that are inexpensive, lightweight, compact and simple. In this thesis, the designing, manufacturing, modelling, and experimental characterization of a novel balloon-shape electroactive polymer actuator are presented. The proposed balloon-shape actuator (BSA) has a spherical configuration and it can provide large displacements under high compression loads. The lightweight and inexpensive proposed BSA, is analyzed in two case studies. In the first, the behaviour of a radially expanding BSA is analyzed. The large-deformation exhibited by the BSA during radial pre-straining is investigated analytically and experimentally. The electromechanical behaviour of the BSA is studied via analytical models, and simulations based on a finite element method. In the second case study, an experimental procedure is implemented to determine the relationship between the imposed electrical field and the force exerted by the BSA. The thesis is concluded by investigating the potential use of the BSA in a wireless communication application.
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Thesis advisor: Menon, Carlo
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