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 ")

3D Printed Spherical Flying Machine
'Gold dots against blue, basketball-sized, twelve feet up....' - Larry Niven, 1972.

Nanotech Used To Create Custom Water Filters In Tanzania
'People started out squeamish about Clearsacs...'- Paolo Bacigalupi, 2015.

Google Project Soli - Control Devices With A Gesture
'He waved his hand and the circuit switched...'- Philip K. Dick, 1955.

NASA's Subvocal Speech System
'She took a subvocal input device from its rack...'- David Brin, 1990.

 

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

Robots Take Our Jobs By Reading Our Instructions
'The Talk Between Robots radio...'

Surgery In Space
' It was a ... coffin, form-fitted to Nessus himself...'

Flimmer Navy Drone Flies And Swims
Launch the Flying Sub!

Taser Drones Now Legal In North Dakota
'I sent my eyes on their rounds and tended my gallery of one hundred-thirty changing pictures...'

Growing Metal In The Shape You Want
What more do you need, engineers?

Self-Healing Materials For Spacecraft
'It even had an inter-skin layer of gum that sealed the punctures...'

World's First Full-Colour, Flexible Thin-Film Reflective Display
'A wide sheet of clear material suddenly flared with light and swirling colour....'

Jazz AI Compliments Of DARPA
'I request that you feed the correlation between those dots and the levers of the panel into my memory banks.'

Tasty Space Lettuce!
Having tested, we tasted.

See LG OLED Wallpaper - Amazing Video
'... television that unrolled like a poster.'

Canada's Inflatable Space Elevator Tower
"...establish an elevator system linking Earth to space?"

Ekso Works Industrial Exoskeleton
'Earth's scientists [devised] rigid metallic clothing not unlike armor...'

Mother Robot Evolves Her Children
'The Robot Mother... the most dangerous thing in creation.'

Cheetah 2 Robot Now Leaps Obstacles To Get You
'The legs are long, curled way up to deliver power, like a cheetah's.'

Xiaoice Will Text You And Be Your Friend
'If you spoke English, results might be whimsical...'

Synthetic Coral To Clean The Seas?
'Numberless capillaries arranged in a belt around the smart coral reef...'

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.