Discovery today reported an interesting article about artificial muscles that can one day replaces our own and offer durability and flexibility just like our muscles. An international collaboration of researchers announced the development of new artificial muscles made out of carbon nanotube yarns that twist like an elephant’s trunk. However, their rotation is over a thousand times higher than previous artificial muscles and the diameter of each strand is ten times smaller than a human hair.
Researchers from the University of Texas at Dallas, the University of Wollongong in Australia, the University of British Columbia in Canada and Hanyang University in Korea all contributed to the project. The technology will likely be attractive to those using microfluidic pumps, valve drives and mixers. The nanoscale cylinders of carbon are spun into helical yarns, and when electrically charged, are capable of untwisting. Think of this way: imagine the yarns to be left- and right-handed muscles that can rotate in opposite directions, giving an unparralelled range of motion.
Researchers say the torsional rotation of the nanotube yarns is remarkable, allowing the artificial muscles to accelerate at a 2,000 times heavier paddle — up to 590 revolutions per minute in 1.2 seconds — then reverse their rotation when charged. They are even capable of flexing and unflexing, similar to a Chinese finger trap.
You can read more about their findings here.