Artificial muscles at MIT

Artificial muscles at MIT


MIT researchers at the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research have developed a new material that changes its shape after absorbing water vapor. This material is made from an inter-locking network of two different polymers. One forms a hard but flexible matrix that provides structural support, while the other is a soft gel that swells when it absorbs water. Together these polymers create a material that converts water vapor to energy without the use of an external energy source. When the 20 micrometer thick film is exposed to moisture the bottom layer absorbs the evaporated water forcing the film to curl away from the surface. Once the bottom of the film is exposed to the air it quickly releases the moisture causing it to somersault forward and start to curl up once more. Researchers were surprised to discover not only does it need a very small amount of vapor, but it also demonstrated a large amount of strength. Using only water vapor as an energy source the film can lift a load of silver wires ten times its own weight. Harnessing this continuous motion could drive artificial robotic muscles or generate enough electricity to power small electronics.

63 Replies to “Artificial muscles at MIT”

  1. powering electronics with this sounds brilliant. literally breathe energy into your phone. the 'curling surface' actuation model being labeled artificial 'muscle' always always always bugs me though (EAP's for example).

  2. First i thought the video was saying that it was triggered by humidity in the air, but then i realised these things in the video must be sitting on wet white paper. So it's getting it's energy from the humidity difference between the wet paper and the dry surrounding air. Eventually the paper will dry out and need to be re-wet, and/or the air will get increasingly humid until the air & paper are both equally wet.
    Phew, Thermodynamics you gave me a scare there, lets never fight again.

  3. This has so many uses, particularly in applications where something needs to be dried. The "i'm still not dry yet!" wetness of the material could power the very fanning motion that will dry it out.
    Algae from photobioreactors is generally dried using a wicking effect (you just press dry cloth against it), this mechanism could self-power that.
    Or how about clothing that moves and twitches around when it is wet – flapping and fanning itself until it dries, while you're still wearing it!

  4. omg, what about t-shirts that automatically force your arms to raise when you get sweaty armpits, so it can dry out.
    "Self-aware T-shirt ain't putting up with this gross human shit!"

  5. Could larger versions of this actually be used in power plants to convert the steam to electricity instead of turbines and if so would it be more efficient?

  6. I need that for my solar battery charged divers watch, thats my original thought, idea and inception, i need it to suite my very personal needs.

  7. HAHAHA!! This technology looks like Bonito Flakes. It's a paper like fish flake topping for foods like Okonomiyaki and Takoyaki. It's moves just like this polymer sheet:
    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_Qt19NwlJjlg/S-5fqglbTWI/AAAAAAAAMHM/F-5Yak4Zvbo/s1600/20100515_2016-Chef%27s-Armoury_Takoyaki_Katsubushi-fish-flakes-added.jpg

  8. I think the fishing string type of artificial muscle is better.You don't have to use water or gels, just heat. Imagine making a piston of sorts with an artificial muscle, It won't have the same kind of rpms, but the torque should be good enough.It could be for cars or a generator.     

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *