MIT Develops Artificial 'Muscles' Based on Fibers
MIT researchers have come up
with a fiber based artificial 'muscle' system that can be used for robots,
prosthetic limbs, or other mechanical and biomedical applications.
The new fibers were developed by MIT postdoctoral student Mehmet Kanik and MIT graduate student Sirma Örgüç, working with professors Polina Anikeeva, Yoel Fink, Anantha Chandrakasan, and C. Cem Taşan, and five others, using a fiber-drawing technique to combine two dissimilar polymers into a single strand of fiber.
The key to the process is mating together two materials that have very different thermal expansion coefficients — meaning they have different rates of expansion when they are heated. This is the same principle used in many thermostats, for example, using a bimetallic strip as a way of measuring temperature. As the joined material heats up, the side that wants to expand faster is held back by the other material. As a result, the bonded material curls up, bending toward the side that is expanding more slowly.
The new fiber based technology was developed observing how plants grows upward to get more sunlight and exposure as possible.