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 -
Neuroscientist Works Toward Virtual Immortality ala Clarke
'Nothing will be left of Jeserac but a galaxy of electrons frozen in the heart of a crystal.'- Arthur C. Clarke, 1956.
Colloidal Quantum Dots Make Spray-On Solar Cells Possible
'Black Power... you spray it on.'- Larry Niven, 1995
Race Into The Future With Bionic Boots
'The tremendous loping strides afforded by such devices... '- Neal Stephenson, 1995.
Lightpaper Way Thinner Than OLED
'You have this on Siwenna?'- Isaac Asimov, 1952.
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.
In Vivo Micromotors Powered By Stomach Acid
First in vivo study of artificial micromotors.
Synthetic 'Squid Skin' For Camouflage On The Way
'The small, chameleon-clad figures continued to advance.'
3D Printer 'Teleports' Objects Like Simak's Way Stations
'An entirely new being but exactly like the old one'
Laser Etching Makes Metal Super-Hydrophobic
'The water flowed off those walls without binding tension.'
Patient Walks Out With Fully Artificial Heart
'The throb of the robot pump gave him confidence...'
Radisens' Gemini Instant Blood Tests
An amazing lab-on-a-panel.
Nonhuman Artist Collective Keeps Robot Artist Earnings Until Legal
Pay the artists!
Argentine Orangutan Receives Basic Human Rights
'They wouldn't dare let the Fuzzies be proven sapient...'
Elon Musk, Google To Extend Internet Into Earth Orbit, Then Mars
'This was the center of Interplanetary Communications.'
Range R Lets Police See Into Your House
There are lots of ways to see through walls!
Thync Mood Alteration Like PKD's Mood Organ
'I sat down at my mood organ and I experimented...'
Atlas DRC Robot Now Untethered
Would a robot walking toward you make you feel afraid?
VirtualGreen Putting Simulator Like Brin's Needle-Gym
'My eyes saw a tiny, off-white chamber, its coarse floor of needles mimicking a steep hillside...'
VW Golf R Touch With Gesture Control
'All you had to do was wave your hand...'
The Bioengineered Uterus
Will it ever exist?
3Doodler 2.0 Create A 3D Object With A Pen
'Plastic comes out of the end of the drawing arm and hardens as it comes.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories