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 |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )
Related News Stories -
Turing's Nose - Was That Scent Real Or Artificial?
'Rippling arpeggios of thyme and lavender...' - Aldous Huxley, 1932.
Cost Effective Smart Windows To Replace Curtains?
'The polawindow, which he tuned to clear transmission.' - Frank Herbert, 1972.
Autonomous Tractor Harvest-Ready
'[He] dropped the handles of the plough that was plugged into the robomule...' - Harry Harrison, 1965.
AgileQuad Object Avoidance Drone
Perfect for forest moons.
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.
Walmart Shopping Cart Robots Will Follow You
'...the machine would carry his bag in its soft plastic jaws...'
DoNotPay Lawyer Program Contests Parking Tickets
'I want my lawyer program.'
City Made Of Bone
'The cheapest building material known...'
SpotMini Robot Pierson's Puppeteer-Style
Now they're kind of cute, right?
Brick By Brick, Building Martian Bases
Don't try to boost everything from the surface of the Earth.
Elon Musk et. al. OpenAI Household Robot
'Any work a human being does around a house.'
BRUISE Smart Injury Detection Suit
'... Bee could see that three of them were disabled and two of them damaged.'
Tesla Model S Is Also A Boat (Sort Of)
'This Dick Dare contraption of yours...'
Promobot, The Runaway Russian Robot!
'Got yourself a runaway, Jack?'
Rowbot Small Autonomous Farm Robot
'...The tiny red glints of self-guided tractors.'
Amazon's Alexa To Recognize Emotions
Oh, Hal understood their emotions, all right.
Cool 'Single-Person Spaceships' Have Better SF Name
'A cabin so small, you couldn't stand up with the air lock closed..'
First Robot Suicide Has Science Fiction Roots
'What had happened to prevent my death?'
First US Clinical Trial For Wearable Artificial Kidney
'Wholly mechanical organs...'
Open Bionics To Produce Deus Ex Prosthetic Designs
Be a part of a science fictional future.
Human-Carrying Drone Taxi 184 Approved For Test Flights
'The cab was an egg-shaped bubble...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories