Computer-controlled ultra high voltage amplifier for dielectric elastomer actuators

Ardi Wiranata, Zebing Mao, Yu Kuwajima, Yuya Yamaguchi, Muhammad Akhsin Muflikhun, Hiroki Shigemune, Naoki Hosoya, Shingo Maeda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Soft robotics is a breakthrough technology to support human–robot interactions. The soft structure of a soft robot can increase safety during human and robot interactions. One of the promising soft actuators for soft robotics is dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs). DEAs can operate silently and have an excellent energy density. The simple structure of DEAs leads to the easy fabrication of soft actuators. The simplicity combined with silent operation and high energy density make DEAs interesting for soft robotics researchers. DEAs actuation follows the Maxwell-pressure principle. The pressure produced in the DEAs actuation depends much on the voltage applied. Common DEAs requires high voltage to gain an actuation. Since the power consumption of DEAs is in the milli-Watt range, the current needed to operate the DEAs can be neglected. Several commercially available DC-DC converters can convert the volt range to the kV range. In order to get a voltage in the 2–3 kV range, the reliable DC-DC converter can be pricy for each device. This problem hinders the education of soft actuators, especially for a newcomer laboratory that works in soft electric actuators. This paper introduces an entirely do-it-yourself (DIY) Ultrahigh voltage amplifier (UHV-Amp) for education in soft robotics. UHV-Amp can amplify 12 V to at a maximum of 4 kV DC. As a demonstration, we used this UHV-Amp to test a single layer of powdered-based DEAs. The strategy to build this educational type UHV-Amp was utilizing a Cockcroft-Walton circuit structure to amplify the voltage range to the kV range. In its current state, the UHV-Amp has the potential to achieve approximately 4 kV. We created a simple platform to control the UHV-Amp from a personal computer. In near future, we expect this easy control of the UHV-Amp can contribute to the education of soft electric actuators.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100139
JournalBiomimetic Intelligence and Robotics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2024 Mar


  • Dielectric elastomer actuators
  • Electric amplifier
  • Soft actuator education
  • Soft actuators
  • Soft robotics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)


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