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.
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 (Back On) ( 1 )
Related News Stories -
Swiss HCPVT Giant Photovoltaic 'Flower'
'...leaning against one of the slender stalks of a sunshade-photocell collector.'- David Brin, 1990.
Peel And Stick Thin Film Solar Cells
'It turns sunlight into electricity, just like any solar power converter, but you spray it on.'- Larry Niven, 1995.
Microbattery Extreme High Performance
'To this Foyle affixed a power pack the size of a pea and switched it on.'- Alfred Bester, 1956.
Speeding Ticket Robots To Cite Autonomous Cars?
'There is no danger of a vehicle's speed exceeding that allowed in the section in which it happens to be...'- John Jacob Astor IV, 1894.
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.
German Firm Seeks To Recruit Autistics
Not a deficit, but a strength.
NASA Supports Pizza Printer
Is it extra with printed pepperoni?
Could Ground-Based Lasers De-Orbit Space Junk?
'Then their lasers vaporized the smaller satellites...'
'Hello, Computer!' Google Now Highlighted at IO13
MIT Robot Cheetah Video Shows Gait Transition
'The legs are long, curled way up to deliver power, like a cheetah's.'
TrackingPoint Smart Rifle
Not your typical 'smart bullet' approach.
Sky City's 220 Stories Are Go
'It rested among green parklands and... stood in total isolation, a glittering block of whites and flashing windows dotted with colors.'
CARMAT Bioprosthetic Total Human Heart Replacement
'George Walt's corporate existence proved the workability of wholly mechanical organs...'
Personal Sniffer Robots
'...The ticking combinations of the olfactory system of the hound.'
Physical Exam? We've Got Apps
See the future of handheld, personal medical devices.
The Interplanetary Internet, Vint Cerf Speaking
'This was the center of Interplanetary Communications.'
Drosophila Robotica, The Mechanical Fly
'... the Scarab [flying robot] buzzed into the great workroom as any intruding insect might...'
Robo-Raven Flapping Wing Robot Bird
'When he had first built them, they had been crude indeed, flying mechanisms with little more than a reflex-response unit.'
Japan's Nursing Home Robot Plan
Let's make the Roujin Z-0001 Robotic Bed!
Samsung Smart TVs With Gesture Control
'He waved his hand and the circuit switched abruptly.'
Swiss HCPVT Giant Photovoltaic 'Flower'
'...leaning against one of the slender stalks of a sunshade-photocell collector.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories