Scientists have turned both sewing thread and fishing line into remarkably sturdy, inexpensive artificial muscles that might be used in robots, prosthetic limbs or in fabrics that expand when the weather is warmer and contract when it is cold outside. The fiber muscles are able to lift at least a 100 times as much as human muscles can that are the same weight and length, stated researchers. They might also be used to move humanoid robots limbs, open or close windows inside a structure to help keep the temperature steady
Ray Baughman, who works as a chemist at the University of Texas and was also the lead of the study stated that the simplicity is what makes the beauty of this technology. High-school students inside their own home could make these muscles and use them.
To make the artificial muscles are basically as easy as twisting and curling polymer fishing line and sewing thread. The twists are done with the help of a power drill. The twisted fibers make a synthetic muscle which could drive a heavy rotor at a rate of around 10,000 revolutions per minute. The artificial muscles generate close to three horsepower per lb. This is equal to the equivalent of a jet engine.
The researchers discovered that when they bound the fiber even more, it created a coiling motion, such as occurs when a rubber band is twisted too much. By rolling in the same direction as the twisting makes muscles which diminish when heated and open up again when cooled. In comparison, by coiling in a different direction ups up making muscles that enlarge when heated up.
The fake muscles might be used to control the exoskeletons of androids or exoskeletons, explained the researchers. In the case of robotic muscles, electrical energy would cause the fibers to contract. The current humanoid robots and prosthetic limbs are actually primitive in terms of mechanics. Since they have to run on hydraulics or motors, such robotic parts do not have the dexterousness of a human hand.
The artificial muscles are able to contract to around 50 percent of their size. Previous synthetic muscles were built out of materials which included carbon nanotubes and also metal wiring. Yet these are costly to produce and control. The scientists showed how to make high-strength fibers. The researchers came from all over the world such as the United States, Australia, Canada, Turkey, China and South Korea.
John Madden, who is a computer engineering professor at the University of British Columbia, added that the artificial muscles have a higher power output for their weight than that of a combustion engine. The many different applications that could also be used for the new synthetic muscles might also even be invasive robotic microsurgery, making new types of human prosthetics for people and also devices which operate windows which are in response to how the temperature changes in order to keep a structure comfortable. These fibers might even make better robots.
Scientists have turned both sewing thread and fishing line into remarkably sturdy, inexpensive artificial muscles that might be used in robots, prosthetic limbs or in fabrics that expand when the weather is warmer and contract when it is cold outside.
By Kimberly Ruble