The purpose of this study is to determine the feasibility of using dielectric elastomer actuators (DEA) for powering prosthetic feet. DEAs are essentially a deformable capacitor and previous studies have shown that DEAs can have unique desired deformations for upper limb movements. While force output in DEAs has been looked into, this study will focus on how much work a DEA configured as a traditional prosthetic foot design can provide. This can potentially provide amputees addition work when they are walking which can reduce secondary complications that come following amputation.
Currently, the researcher is trying to create a prosthetic foot using a dielectric elastomer actuator (DEA), which is essentially rubber deforming under an electrical force. Creating a dielectric elastomer needs careful consideration on the type of rubber and electrodes for the current, so the researcher is trying materials that can be useful for a proof concept. Once a DEA can be properly crafted, the next step would be designing how to deform it so that is can mimic a foot.