Rise of the Terminator: Superstrong artificial muscles made by scientists are 100x STRONGER than humans and could be used in prosthetic limbs, exoskeletons and robots
- Three different examples of spiral synthetic muscle have been developed
- One is made from materials such as bamboo or silk and can be used in clothing
- A similar design uses polymers and stronger than diamond graphene
- The third coils in response to external heating were converted to a small bicep
Three independent groups of researchers have designed powerful artificial muscles that are approximately 100 times stronger than ours.
The synthetic muscles are designed around coiled or retractable fibers that can stretch and contract, just like their natural counterparts.
The muscle designs can have different applications – from developing smart clothing that changes in response to the weather, prosthetic limbs and robots.
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Three independent groups of researchers have designed powerful artificial muscles that are approximately 100 times stronger than ours. Pictured, the synthetic muscles of MIT material scientist Mehmet Kanik and colleague
The same basic principle supports the muscles of the muscles developed by each research team – that rolled up materials can stretch, just like natural muscles.
The pioneer of technology was nanotech expert Ray Baughman from the University of Texas at Dallas and colleagues, who demonstrated the principle on standard household materials – sewing thread and fishing lines.
The team showed for the first time that even these base materials, after being rotated, can form muscle-like structures that can lift 100 times heavier than would be possible with human muscles of the same size.
Building on this theme, the researchers have now manufactured stronger fibers based on equally cost-effective and well-known materials such as bamboo or silk.
When rolled up and coated with a special sleeve that responds to electrochemical or temperature changes, the team was able to contract and move the muscle in response to external triggers.
For example, such muscle materials could be used in smart clothing – a principle that the researchers demonstrated by incorporating their muscle fibers into textiles, making them more porous in response to moisture.
& # 39; You could imagine that such textiles could be more open or more insulating & # 39 ;, University of Illinois told Urbana-Champaign's material handler Sameh Tawfick New scientist.
Materials scientist Jinkai Yuan from the University of Bordeaux and his colleagues used their own twist on these rolled up fabrics and instead used polymer and stronger than diamond graphene to make their fibers.
The third research group, led by material researcher Mehmet Kanik, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, on the other hand, has created materials that are rolled up when activated by external stimuli, just like a plant fringe.
To demonstrate their muscles, the researchers created a small artificial bicep that lifts a small dumbbell when heat is applied to the fiber.
Their fibers can lift 650 times their own weight and resilience above thousands of cycles of expansion and contraction.
The third research group created materials that are rolled up when activated by external stimuli, just like a plant tendril. To demonstrate their muscles, the researchers created a small artificial bicep that lifts a small dumbbell when heat is applied to the fiber
The muscle designs can have various uses – including robotic body parts, as built into the fictional cyborgs, the Terminators, depicted
However, natural muscles still have an important advantage over their synthetic counterparts – they are considerably more efficient.
Even the most advanced artificial muscle is only capable of converting about 3 percent of the energy that it converts, Professor Tawfick told New Scientist.
The rest of the energy is lost and has been accidentally converted into heat.
However, if engineers succeed in overcoming this problem, the future uses of artificial muscles are numerous – making it possible to make cheap and compact replacements for today's large-scale electric motors.
Synthetic muscles can even be used to power robotic body parts, just like those of the famous fictional cyborgs, the Terminators.
HOW DO MUSCLE WORK?
Muscles form a complicated network of tendons throughout the body of animals.
They respond to electrical stimulation that is carried through the nerves from the brain to the muscle.
There are different types of muscles, often made from different types of tissue.
For example, the heart, which never stops beating, is made of a different material than the skeletal muscle.
The skeletal muscle is attached to one end of a bone. It extends all the way over a joint (the place where two bones meet) and then attaches itself again to another bone.
Skeletal muscles are held on the bones with tendons.
Once the electrical signal reaches the muscle, it triggers a contraction.
This is done by two types of proteins that overlap and counteract each other.
A thick wire composed of the protein myosin and a thin wire composed of the protein actin.
Muscle contraction occurs when these filaments glide over each other in a series of recurring events.
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