AUG 25, 2019 1:45 PM PDT

Artificial Muscle for Soft Robotics

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Imagine wearing a flower brooch that blooms in front of your eyes? Well, the ultrathin, artificial muscle used for soft robotics was recently developed by scientists from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). The study, published in the journal Science Robotics, was concerned with advancing the use of soft robotics for other critical applications such as prosthetics and wearable electronics. An actuator is a robotic equivalent of a muscle that can move. When the actuator expands, contracts, or rotates—it is like muscle fibers utilizing a stimulus such as electrical impulses.

Watch this video below to learn more--Artificial Muscles Bloom, Dance, and Wave:



Currently, engineers are seeking to develop dynamic actuators that have high efficiency in responses, can withstand bending, and have durability. The actuator appears as a thin strip of paper roughly an inch long. In the study, the material used for the actuator is called MXene—characterized as particular type of compounds with layers only a few atoms thick. The chosen MXene material (T3C2Tx) is made of titanium and carbon, and initially is not flexible by itself as the layers would flake off when the actuator was bent in a loop. However, when the MXene is ionically cross-linked that is connected through an ionic bond such as a synthetic polymer. The combination of these materials would make the actuator flexible, while also keeping its strength and conductivity that is crucial for movements driven by electricity.

To demonstrate their development, researchers incorporated the actuator into wearable art such as how an origami-inspired brooch can mimic how a narcissus flower unfolds its petals when a small amount of electricity is applied.

"Wearable robotics and kinetic art demonstrate how robotic muscles can have fun and beautiful applications," said Il-Kwon Oh, lead paper author and professor of mechanical engineering. "It also shows the enormous potential for small, artificial muscles for a variety of uses, such as haptic feedback systems and active biomedical devices."

Source: Science Daily

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Nouran is a scientist, educator, and life-long learner with a passion for making science more communicable. When not busy in the lab isolating blood macrophages, she enjoys writing on various STEM topics.
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