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 ")

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.

 

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

Turing's Nose - Was That Scent Real Or Artificial?
'Rippling arpeggios of thyme and lavender...'

Xian'er Buddhist Monk Robot
'Getting to his feet he crossed the waiting room to the Padre booth...'

AnBot Security Robot WILL Tase You, Bro
Michael Crichton right again.

Hover Camera - Unfold Drone, Shoot Selfie
'He set his camera to follow him...'

A Baker's Dozen Of Autonomous Car-Related Revolutions
'Old people began to cross the continent in their own cars.'

Would You Date A Robot? 1 in 4 Say 'Yes'!
'My hands touched a great keyboard, whence, perfect through long practice, I could direct lifelike motion.'

Sophia, The Personable Robot From Hanson Robotics.
'The de luxe model... has fifty different facial expressions...'

Swimming, Slithering Snake Robot
John Connor, how do you feel about swimming snakes?

The First 'Drone Cafe' Started By Dutch Students
'It was a smooth ovoid floating a few inches from the floor...'

Astronaut Tim Peake Completes Space Marathon
'Joe got out the gravity-simulator harnesses...'

Aerojet Rocketdyne 'Ion Drive' To Reach The Asteroids? (Update!)
'It has its own ion drive...'

Beatie Wolfe's Album Is A Deck Of NFC Cards
'The greater trumps ready to step right out through those glistening surfaces.'

Is Social Media Saving Space Travel?
'Officially, they were delighted to share their experiences with the public.'

iBubble Scuba Drone Follower
'Hovered behind him like a large tame bee...'

Ironing Robot May Fulfill Russian Science Fiction Dreams
Sometimes, the old inventions are the best.

Organic Photonic Skin Display
'A strip of readout skin on my 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.