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Artificial 'Muscle' Has Elasticity

A new material has the tough, stretchy characteristics of real-life muscle tissue. This engineered polymer can imitate the properties of titin, the protein that gives muscle its elastic properties, and can be used as the scaffolding for artificial muscle creation.


(New material stretchy like muscle tissue)

"A hallmark of titin-like proteins is that they unfold under a stretching force to dissipate energy and prevent damage to tissues by over-stretching," said co-author John Gosline from the University of British Columbia in Canada. "We've been able to replicate one of the more unique characteristics exhibited by muscle tissues, but not all of them."

The texture and material characteristics of muscle is essential in both biomedical applications (like this Cultured Muscle Sheet Used To Repair Hearts ) and in the nascent vat grown meat industry (see Beaker Burgers From In Vitro Meat and Cultured Meat Straight From The Vat )

Science fiction fans have been thinking about artificial muscle since at least Larry Niven's 1968 novel A Gift from Earth.

More recently, In Battletech, the giant robot "mechs" are powered by an artificial muscle called "Myomer", a fibrous material consisting of microscopically thin tubes filled with a substance (acti-strandular fiber) that contracts when voltage is applied.

Myomer is composed of microscopic poly-acetylene tubes filled with an acti-strandular fiber. These fibers are created by mixing biologically engineered bacteria with specific polymers within the tubes. An electric current is sent through these tube, causing the fibers to arrange themselves into a complex nano-structure similar to the proteins myosin and actin that allow biological muscles their movement.

(Via Sarna)

See also the power wagons from Jack Vance's 1967 novel The Last Castle for a similar idea.

Via BBC; thanks to Winchell Chung (aka @nyrath on Twitter).

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/7/2010)

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