AAS 200th meeting, Albuquerque, NM, June 2002
Session 63. Future Airborne and Space Instruments
Display, Wednesday, June 5, 2002, 10:00am-7:00pm, SW Exhibit Hall

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[63.06] Large Lightweight Mirrors Controlled by Dielectric Elastomer Artifical Muscle

R.D. Kornbluh, D.S. Flamm, P. Vujkovic-Civijin, R.E. Pelrine, D.L. Huestis (SRI)

We will describe a new concept for control of the lightweight large-aperture mirrors that will be required for future space-based astronomy and remote sensing applications. To be cost effective and practical, such optical systems must be lightweight and capable of deployment from highly compacted stowed configurations. Optical systems based on membrane mirrors or other lightweight structures can address some of these needs, but such flexible gossamer structures present challenges in achieving and maintaining the required shape or figure.

For the past 9 years SRI has been exploring dielectric elastomer artifical muscle technology for active control of objects and structures [1-2]. The basic functional element is a thin polymer film coated on both sides by a compliant electrode material. When voltage is applied between the top and bottom electrodes, an electrostrictive compressive force squeezes the film, causing it to expand in area. The induced forces are related to the square of the voltage. If we assemble a large mirror from numerous independently addressable elements, sophisticated control is possible, even including adaptive optics.

Dielectric elastomers have many advantages over other electroactive polymers and other smart-materials actuation technologies that have been considered in the past. For example, from many candidate materials we can choose ones with high planar strains, low power dissipation, tolerance of the space environment, and ease of commercial fabrication into large sheets.

[1] R. Pelrine, R. Kornbluh, Q. Pei, and J. Joseph, Science 287, 386 (2000).

[2] R. Pelrine, P. Sommer-Larson, R. Kornbluh, R. Heydt, G. Kofod, Q. Pei, and P. Gravesen, in Smart Structures and Materials 2001: Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices, ed. Y. Bar-Cohen, Proc. SPIE 4329, 335 (2001).

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: roy.kornbluh@sri.com

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34
© 2002. The American Astronomical Soceity.