Less Expensive, Yet Powerful Artificial Muscle Developed
Muscles are a critical part of our lives, as they are what provide the force and power to move about our world. Recreating that ability has been proving difficult though, as motors and engines can be too large, and artificial muscles can be expensive to produce. Researchers across the world, including those at that University of British Columbia, have recently developed an artificial muscle that utilizes materials commonly found in fishing lines and thread.
Artificial muscles have to have the ability to expand and contract, producing so much force in the process, similar to our natural muscles. Metal wires and carbon nanotubes have been used before to make artificial muscles, but both materials can be difficult to work with and expensive to produce, making them less-than-ideal. What the researchers developed is instead based on fibers of polyethylene and nylon, which have been twisted into tight coils. To make them expand and contract, the researchers had to change their temperature, which can be accomplished with an electrical heating element. Compared to a human muscle of equal size, it can lift objects 100 times heavier.
Being a common material, artificial muscles based on this material could be cheaper and easily deployed. Potential applications include robots as well as low-cost devices to assist those of reduced mobility.
Source: University of British Columbia