Towards electroactive gel artificial muscle structures

Tim Helps, Majid Taghavi, Jonathan Rossiter

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)

5 Citations (Scopus)
1039 Downloads (Pure)


Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) gel is a promising, soft-smart material with electroactive properties, which can be used to make soft robotic actuators with impressive characteristics. However, until now, PVC gel actuators have always been made with rigid metal electrodes, preventing the fabrication of fully soft devices. Here, we present a novel conceptual design for PVC gel actuators. By moving the microstructure from the electrode to the gel itself, we enable PVC gels which exhibit linear contraction when sandwiched between planar electrodes made from any conductive material. We investigate four different microstructures, three of which exhibit higher displacements compared with a traditional (mesh-based) PVC gel actuator. The best performing gel achieved a displacement of 26% of the microstructure height. Finally, we demonstrate an entirely soft PVC gel actuator with thin conductive rubber electrodes. This article is a first step towards totally compliant artificial muscles made from soft electrodes and PVC gels.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationElectroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) XX
EditorsYoseph Bar-Cohen
PublisherSociety of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE)
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9781510616844
Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2018

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE
PublisherSociety of Photo-optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE)
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


  • Soft robotics
  • electroactive polymer
  • PVC gel
  • soft actuator
  • anodophilic behaviour


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