View all newsletters
Receive our newsletter – data, insights and analysis delivered to you
  1. News
April 18, 2018

Artificial muscles can lift 12,600 times their own weight

Researchers have developed artificial muscles that are capable of lifting up to 12,600 times their own weight and can produce 18 times more specific work than natural muscles.

By Robert Scammell

Researchers have developed artificial muscles that are capable of lifting up to 12,600 times their own weight and can produce 18 times more specific work than natural muscles.

The team from the University of Illinois College of Engineering claims that the muscles could be used in prosthetics, robotics, orthotics and human assistive devices.

The researchers designed the artificial muscles using mathematical models and created them from commercial carbon fibres and polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). The materials were twisted into a coiled shape with a drill to create a yarn with a homogeneous form and a constant radius.

“The mathematical model we proposed is a useful design tool to tailor the performance of coiled artificial muscles according to the different applications,” said co-author and postdoctoral fellow Caterina Lamuta.

“Furthermore, the model provides a clear understanding of all the parameters that play an important role in the actuation mechanism, and this encourages future research works toward the development of new typologies of fibre-reinforced coiled muscles with enhanced properties.”

The findings, published in the journal Smart Materials and Structures, explain how the muscles can support up to 60 megapascals of mechanical stress, providing tensile strokes higher than 25% and specific work of up to 758 J/kg. This is 18 times more than the specific work natural muscles are capable of producing.

When electrically operated, the carbon fibre-based artificial muscles are able to perform to a high standard without requiring a high input voltage. A 0.4mm diameter muscle bundle, for example, is capable of lifting half a gallon of water by 1.4 inches with only 0.172 V/cm applied voltage.

“To use carbon fibres, we had to understand the mechanism of contraction of coiled muscles,” said author and professor of mechanical science and engineering Sameh Tawfick.

“Once we uncovered the theory, we learned how to transform carbon fibres into ultra-strong muscles. We simply filled carbon fibres tows with the suitable type of silicone rubber, and their performance was impressive, precisely what we had aimed for.”

According to the researchers’ mathematical predictions and experiments, the strength of the artificial muscle is limited by the ability of the guest material—in this case PDMS—to expand. They hope that their theoretical model will help design a guest material which could result in even stronger muscles.

Related Companies

NEWSLETTER Sign up Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. The top stories of the day delivered to you every weekday. A weekly roundup of the latest news and analysis, sent every Friday. The medical device industry's most comprehensive news and information delivered every month.
I consent to GlobalData UK Limited collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy
SUBSCRIBED

THANK YOU