The artificial muscles were based on conventional nylon threads combined with conductive ink, which allowed them to perform many movements like muscle tissue. Scientists believe the technology could find applications in robotics, next-generation prostheses, and flexible components in automobiles and aviation.
The principle of operation of fibers is quite simple - they shrink when exposed to heat. At the same time, they demonstrate enviable endurance, maintaining efficiency even after 100, 000 flexion / extension and maintaining a speed of up to 17 cycles / sec.
The artificial muscle formation technology is as follows. First, from a nylon thread with a circular cross section, a thread with a rectangular cross section is formed using a special rolling mill. Then, conductive ink is applied to one of its sides. By changing their temperature, it is possible to achieve that the fibers will contract in the desired direction.
“The method proposed by the MIT experts is new and elegant with good experimental evidence, ” said Jeffrey Spinks, professor at Australian Wolongong University. “It's a simple idea that works great. The materials are inexpensive, and the manufacturing technology is simple and versatile. "
Other attempts have been made to create artificial muscles, in particular, from polymer fishing line and a spiral thread, as well as from carbon nanotubes in combination with rubber, but all of them turned out to be very expensive in practical use.