An international team of scientists has developed a new approach for building artificial muscles out of carbon nanotubes. Though not ready for use in animal models, these muscle-like devices are extremely light and considerably more powerful than real muscles, 85 times more pound for pound and able to lift over 100,000 times their own weight.
The strength of these devices comes from twisting and coiling of carbon nanotubes compresses a great deal of energy into a small volume. The nanotubes are coated with parafin, which when heated causes the nanotube yarn to increase in volume, causing more coiling and shortening the strands. Heat can be applied to the parafin using a variety of methods, including shining a light or introducing a bit of electrical current. Here’s video of Dr. Ray Baughman, team lead of the project, explaining the workings of the artificial muscles:
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