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.Ö 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 -
Wristify, Your Personal Cooling and Heating Device
'By law [a mandatory cooling unit] had to be strapped to every commuter's back...'- Philip K. Dick
Solar Roadways Could Power USA - Times 3
This would be great if it works - the roads might be better maintained as well.
Spaser-Based Circuits Could Be Printed On Clothing
'Alex rolled his wrist over to check the watch imprinted on his sleeve.'- Niven and Barnes, 1981.
Full-Size Invisibility Cloak Now Possible
'I donned it and drew its hood, and threw on its current.'- Ray Cummings, 1930.
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.
Monsieur Bartending Robot
'He poured the liquids into his maw...'
Cities Detect Gunfire Acoustics With ShotSpotter
'Sound trackers on the roof...'
Cruise Automation's 'Highway Autopilot' For $10K
'It cut her out of the stream of vehicles and reduced the speed of her car...'
Pengheng Space Capsule Hotel Staffed Entirely By Robots
'A planet-wide chain of hotels that specialized in non-human service.'
Electric Bacteria That Live On Pure Energy
'April 5, 1977; that was the night the waveries came.'
EXACTO Smart Bullet From DARPA
Nicely visualized in what 1984 movie?
Neural Implant To Treat Memory Loss
'You've got remote storage. How regular is the update?'
MIT's Shape-Shifting Robot Materials
The T-100, an advanced prototype, is made of liquid metal. Not quite ready.
LS3 AlphaDog Robot Marine Corps Video
'He admired the fast-plodding, articulated legs, so necessary since roads had degenerated...'
Vantablack Is Blacker Than Your Black
'Well, we have a black coating now thatís ninety-nine percent absorptive...'
Remotely Operated Gardening Rover - Student's Space Agricultural Robot
'There were things growing all over the place, not just in some domed enclosures blasted some millions of miles out in to space.'
Revisiting A Cloud City On Venus
Lando Calrissian, are you still available?
'Windowless Cockpit' Like Star Trek's Patent Applied For
Mr. Sulu, take us out.
'No Man's Sky' - The Matrix Is Almost Ready
Ready for an adventure, Neo?
The Claustrum - The Brain's On Off Switch?
'All I have to do is move this switch and he'll recover consciousness...'
Haptic Gloves Teach Braille Without Effort
'Jenkins bit his lip... [at] the sensation of having his fingers manipulated by the gauntlets he wore.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories