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MIT Creates Artificial Muscles Using Cheap, Ordinary Nylon Fiber

Nov 24, 2016 04:06 AM EST
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Origami-Inspired Artificial Muscles

A team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has created a new artificial muscles or materials that contracts and expands like muscles fibers, using cheap and readily accessible materials.

The MIT's new synthetic muscles, described in a paper published in the journal Advanced Materials, utilizes the unusual property of ordinary nylon fishing line. Like other polymer fiber materials, nylon can shrink in length while expanding in diameter when heated.

Nylon fibers have been proven to be useful for basic linear muscle activity. Previous studies showed that nylon-based artificial muscles have the ability to extend and retract further and store and release more energy.

For the new nylon-based synthetic muscles, the researchers compressed an ordinary nylon fishing line to change its cross-section from round to rectangular or square. Utilizing the bending abilities of the nylon fibers, the researchers used different heating techniques to alter he nylon's shape. The main idea behind the selective heating came from previous observations made by the researchers

According to a press release, the newly developed material of MIT can maintain its performance after at least 100,000 bending cycles, bending and retracting at a speed of at least 17 cycles per second.

Artificial muscles have been a great part of many applications, from robotics to components in automotive and aviation industries. There are some materials that can be used to mimic the expanding and retracting movement of the muscle fibers. However, these materials are considered to be very exotic, expensive and difficult to make.

With the positive results of their study, the researchers found a cheaper alternative to carbon nanotube yard when it comes to contraction cycles. With this kind of material, scientists could further develop self-adjusting catheters or other biomedical devices. The nylon fibers could even be utilized in a way that clothes made out of the fibers could contract to adjust comfortably to the contours of the body.

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