Artificial polymer muscles that contract with electronic/magnetic stimulation?

  • Thread starter Zirngibism
  • Start date
  • Tags
    Polymer
In summary, the technology exists and is in its early stages of development. It has the potential to become a more powerful form of muscle stimulation.
  • #1
Zirngibism
4
0
Artificial polymer "muscles" that contract with electronic/magnetic stimulation?

Hi everyone! First post-- hope this is the right place for it! And just to let you know, I'm not an engineering professional. I'm asking this question based on a speculative industrial design contest for which I'd like to ground my entry's concept in some reality.

I'd like to ask about a material I heard about a couple of years ago. However, I'm having trouble finding more information about it on the web because I don't know what keywords to put in!

The material in question is a synthetic polymer that could "contract" like a muscle when a current was run through it. (However, it may have been stimulated with magnetism, I'm actually not quite sure.) I believe it could also be made to bend, and curl rather precisely.

So my main questions are: Did I misinterpret the person who mentioned this technology? Does it indeed exist? If so, how do I find out more information about it? I'd like to see some diagrams and photos.

I'm not sure how powerful these "contractions" are. (Could a joint powered by this as a "muscle" lift it's own weight?) If not, is this technology in our near future?If such a material were organized over a humanoid skeleton frame in the pattern of human musculature, could it function as human muscles do?
(Of course, this won't actually be built or anything, so technicalities and cost of this wouldn't be an issue.)

I'm sorry if my query sounds rather vague. Hopefully someone here is familiar with this!
 
Last edited:
Engineering news on Phys.org
  • #2


At first, I thought you might be talking about pneumatic artificial muscles (PAMs), also known as braided pneumatic actuators (BPAs):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pneumatic_artificial_muscles

But as you say contractile polymer, you're probably thinking more along the lines of Electroactive polymers:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electroactive_polymer

I've only passing experience with the latter, even less than the former--and even that was only because one of my colleagues on a former project was working on a side project using some BPAs manufactured by Festo. I recall that the electroactive polymers (a.k.a. artificial muscles)--which were used in one of the labs for a controls course I didn't take--were pretty whimpy. And crazy expensive to boot.

The following website might also be of interest to you:
http://eap.jpl.nasa.gov/

EDIT: And welcome to PhysicsForums!
 
  • #3


MATLABdude said:
At first, I thought you might be talking about pneumatic artificial muscles (PAMs), also known as braided pneumatic actuators (BPAs):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pneumatic_artificial_muscles

But as you say contractile polymer, you're probably thinking more along the lines of Electroactive polymers:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electroactive_polymer

I've only passing experience with the latter, even less than the former--and even that was only because one of my colleagues on a former project was working on a side project using some BPAs manufactured by Festo. I recall that the electroactive polymers (a.k.a. artificial muscles)--which were used in one of the labs for a controls course I didn't take--were pretty whimpy. And crazy expensive to boot.

The following website might also be of interest to you:
http://eap.jpl.nasa.gov/

EDIT: And welcome to PhysicsForums!

Thank you! Electroactive polymers were exactly what I was looking for, though I'm glad you also introducted me to PAMs as well-- I might be able to integrate those, too. I also found Scientific American article linked by your last link to be very helpful. :smile:

While the technology does seem rather wimpy at its current state, it seems as though it has the potential for very delicate and precise operations. I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes in the next decade or two.
 

1. What are artificial polymer muscles and how do they work?

Artificial polymer muscles are materials that can mimic the movement and contraction of natural muscles. They are made of polymer fibers that can change shape when exposed to electronic or magnetic stimulation. This change in shape causes the muscle to contract or expand, allowing it to perform movements similar to natural muscles.

2. What are the potential applications of artificial polymer muscles?

Artificial polymer muscles have a wide range of potential applications, including in prosthetics, robotics, and medical devices. They can also be used in industrial settings, such as in actuators for valves and pumps.

3. How are artificial polymer muscles different from traditional actuators?

Traditional actuators, such as motors and hydraulics, use mechanical components to generate movement. Artificial polymer muscles, on the other hand, use electronic or magnetic stimulation to directly contract and expand, making them more efficient and responsive.

4. Are there any limitations to the use of artificial polymer muscles?

One limitation of artificial polymer muscles is their relatively low strength compared to natural muscles. They also require a power source for stimulation, which can limit their use in certain applications. Additionally, there is still ongoing research to improve their durability and stability over time.

5. What are the current advancements in the field of artificial polymer muscles?

Scientists are constantly researching and developing new types of artificial polymer muscles with improved properties, such as increased strength and faster response times. There are also efforts to integrate these muscles with other materials and technologies, such as sensors and control systems, to create more advanced and versatile devices.

Similar threads

  • Electromagnetism
Replies
17
Views
1K
  • Sci-Fi Writing and World Building
Replies
0
Views
719
Replies
3
Views
58
Replies
3
Views
420
Replies
2
Views
1K
  • Biology and Medical
Replies
15
Views
1K
  • Electromagnetism
Replies
2
Views
1K
  • Materials and Chemical Engineering
Replies
4
Views
3K
  • Thermodynamics
Replies
5
Views
1K
Replies
4
Views
2K
Back
Top