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Axisymmetric necking of a circular electrodes-coated dielectric membrane


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We investigate the stability of a circular electrodes-coated dielectric membrane under the combined action of an electric field and all-round in-plane tension. It is known that such a membrane is susceptible to the limiting point instability (also known as pull-in instability) which is widely believed to be a precursor to electric breakdown. However, there is experimental evidence showing that the limiting point instability may not necessarily be responsible for rapid thinning and electric breakdown. We explore the possibility that the latter is due to a new instability mechanism, namely localised axisymmetric necking. The bifurcation condition for axisymmetric necking is first derived and used to show that this instability may occur before the Treloar-Kearsley instability or the limiting point instability for a class of free energy functions. A weakly nonlinear analysis is then conducted and it is shown that the near-critical behaviour is described by a fourth order nonlinear ordinary differential equation with variable coefficients. This amplitude equation is solved using the finite difference method and it is demonstrated that a localised solution does indeed bifurcate from the homogeneous solution. Based on this analysis and what is already known for the purely mechanical case, we may deduce that the necking evolution follows the same three stages of initiation, growth and propagation as other similar localisation problems. The insight provided by the current study is expected to be relevant in assessing the integrity of dielectric elastomer actuators.


Fu. (2023). Axisymmetric necking of a circular electrodes-coated dielectric membrane. Mechanics of Materials, 104645 - 104645.

Acceptance Date Mar 27, 2023
Publication Date Jun 1, 2023
Journal Mechanics of Materials
Print ISSN 0167-6636
Publisher Elsevier
Pages 104645 - 104645
Keywords Nonlinear electroelasticity; Dielectric membranes; Localisation; Stability; Bifurcation
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