Carbon Nanotube Muscles

Ray Baughman has created a carbon nanotube muscle that is light as air, stiffer than steel and more flexible than rubber.

"The big strength with the present muscles is that they can operate over this enormous temperature range," said Ray Baughman, an author of a paper describing the material, which will be published in Friday's issue of Science.

When a voltage is applied, charge is injected into the material, causing repulsion that pushes the nanotubes apart. That causes the material to expand dramatically in width and thickness, but contract in the length direction.

The change in length is only two per cent, but can generate more than 30 times higher stress than natural muscle for its weight, Baughman said.

"Think of a wine rack. If the wine rack is almost fully collapsed, you pull a little bit in the direction which you elongate when it's fully collapsed and you get a giant strain perpendicular, in terms of per cent."

"We can generate about 30 times the force per unit area of natural muscle," said Baughman.


(Illustration of carbon nanotube muscle expansion)
At left is the artificial muscle with no voltage applied. When a voltage is applied, the material expands in width, as shown in the middle (room temperature) and right (high temperature) images.

If this technology can be made to work, it could provide a more space-efficient way for robots to flex their muscles. The earliest application will probably be in solar cells; the carbon nanotube 'muscles' can easily block or let in sunlight for optimal light-sensitive arrangements.

Besides the robotic applications, a reader suggested that they might be a fit for micro-louvered windows in Frank Herbert's Dune series, but I can't find the reference. Anyone?

Update 19-Oct-2011: Martin Caidin specifically uses this term in his 1972 novel Cyborg, which was the basis for the film Six Million Dollar Man; see the entry for artificial muscles. End update.

Update 02-Apr-2014: See the entry for Quasi-Muscles (Sham Musculature) from HG Wells' 1898 novel The War of the Worlds. End update.

Via CBC and Wired. Thanks to an anonymous reader for this contribution.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/22/2009)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )

Related News Stories - (" Engineering ")

SCiO Scanner Wants You To Be Spock
Almost as easy as a tricorder? Apparently, you can pre-order one now.

Harvesting Energy From Internal Resonance
'Sometimes a man has a windmill on his roof...' - John Jacob Astor, 1894.

Sticker Harvests Energy From Your Skin
Another way to harvest power from the body.

Army Wants Invisibility Cloaks
No, you can't see me. Nope, not here.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Denisovans, Neandertals... And Us?
'But in far realms, among strange hominids, you couldn't shun each other, either.'

Patented! Google's Autonomous Delivery Trucks
I hope Google's trucks can find my house!

3 Parent Embryos Approved By Bioethicists
' A tkan merely courts a mlenb and is attracted to a good guur...'

DIY Armed UAV (Toy)
'Each a television eye and a sonic stunner...'

Tired Of Speeders On Your Block? DIY Speed Tracker!
'There is no danger of a vehicle's speed exceeding that allowed in the section in which it happens to be...'

Centriphone Whirling Selfie Camera
''Tight mid-shot and pull out on but behind me,' he told it...'

Eagles Vs. Drones
'Moon bird's view was... partly blocked by the pyramid, so that he did not see the bird-things dark against the brilliant sky...'

SCiO Scanner Wants You To Be Spock
Almost as easy as a tricorder?

Self-Adapting Composite Heals Itself
'...Could seal the punctures that grain-of-sand-sized meteors might make.'

Rigid Clothing, Or Wearable Furniture?
'Earth's scientists solved the problem to some extent by devising rigid metallic clothing...'

Swarming Intelligent Aquatic Surface Robots Ahoy!
'A remote-controlled emulsion, as it were, with uniform center...'

SuitX Cheap Medical Exoskeleton
'... standing on two corrugated-soled titanium footplates...'

Harvesting Energy From Internal Resonance
'Sometimes a man has a windmill on his roof...'

Sticker Harvests Energy From Your Skin
Another way to harvest power from the body.

Twitter Sarcasm Detected By Computer
Seriously?

Myo-Controlled Prosthetic Arm
'Sensitive actuators touch the tendons in your right wrist.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.