New artificial muscles made from nanotech yarns and infused with paraffin wax can lift more than 100,000 times their own weight and generate 85 times more mechanical power during contraction than the same size natural muscle, according to scientists at The University of Texas at Dallas and their international team from Australia, China, South Korea, Canada and Brazil.
The artificial muscles are yarns constructed from carbon nanotubes, which are seamless, hollow cylinders made from the same type of graphite layers found in the core of ordinary pencils. Individual nanotubes can be 10,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, yet, pound-for-pound, can be 100 times stronger than steel.
"The artificial muscles that we've developed can provide large, ultrafast contractions to lift weights that are 200 times heavier than possible for a natural muscle of the same size," said Dr. Ray Baughman [pronounced BAK-man], team leader, Robert A. Welch Professor of Chemistry and director of the Alan G. MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute at UT Dallas. "While we are excited about near-term applications possibilities, these artificial muscles are presently unsuitable for directly replacing muscles in the human body."
Described in a study published online today in the journal Science, the new artificial muscles are made by infiltrating a volume-changing "guest," such as the paraffin wax used for candles, into twisted yarn made of carbon nanotubes. Heating the wax-filled yarn, either electrically or using a flash of light, causes the wax to expand, the yarn volume to increase, and the yarn length to contract.
The combination of yarn volume increase with yarn length decrease results from the helical structure produced by twisting the yarn. A child's finger cuff toy, which is designed to trap a person's fingers in both ends of a helically woven cylinder, has an analogous action. To escape, one must push the fingers together, which cont
|Contact: Amanda Siegfried|
University of Texas at Dallas