Electroactive polymers (EAPs) offer the promise of creating the flexible, low-mass actuators that can form the basic building blocks of artificial muscles. Their main attractive features are relatively small density, compatibility with large deformations, and ease of manufacture and modification. These features have been highlighted by the current generation of actuators [Bar-Cohen, 2000]. Unfortunately, these materials typically produce low force, and the current state of the art is insufficient for most applications. However, the current generation of actuators has been fabricated to demonstrate attractive large deformation features, and little effort has been placed on optimizing the configurations to generate large forces. This chapter discusses a theoretical framework to model the electromechanical behavior of these materials with the goals of
â¢ Optimizing the design of these actuators to produce large force. Such optimal design is essential to produce practically viable artificial muscle.
â¢ Obtaining reduced constitutive models of these actuators. Such reduced models are essential for designing controllers for these actuators and also for the broader mechanical design of the devices.