Artificial muscles made from polymers can now be powered by energy from glucose and oxygen, just like biological muscles. This advance may be a step on the way to implantable artificial muscles or autonomous microrobots powered by biomolecules in their surroundings.
The motion of our muscles is powered by energy that is released when glucose and oxygen take part in biochemical reactions. In a similar way, manufactured actuators can convert energy to motion, but the energy in this case comes from other sources, such as electricity. Scientists at Linköping University wanted to develop artificial muscles that act more like biological muscles. They have now, in a study published in the prestigious journal Advanced Materials, demonstrated the principle using artificial muscles powered by the same glucose and oxygen as our bodies use.
The researchers have used an electroactive polymer, polypyrrole, which changes volume when an electrical current is passed. The artificial muscle, known as a “polymer actuator”, consists of three layers: a thin membrane layer between two layers of electroactive polymer. This design has been used in the field for many years. It works by the material on one side of the membrane acquiring a positive electrical charge and ions being expelled, causing it to shrink. At the same time, the material on the other side acquires a negative electrical charge and ions are inserted, which causes the material to expand. The changes in volume cause the actuator to bend in one direction, in the same way that a muscle contracts.
No battery needed
The electrons that cause motion in artificial muscles normally come from an external source, such as a battery. But batteries suffer from several obvious drawbacks: they are usually heavy, and need to be charged regularly. The scientists behind the study decided instead to use the technology behind bioelectrodes, which can convert chemical energy into electrical energy with the aid of enzymes. They have used naturally occurring enzymes, integrating them into the polymer.
“These enzymes convert glucose and oxygen, in the same way as in the body, to produce the electrons required to power motion in an artificial muscle made from an electroactive polymer. No source of voltage is required: it’s enough simply to immerse the actuator into a solution of glucose in water”, says Edwin Jager, senior lecturer in Sensor and Actuator Systems, in the Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology at Linköping University. Together with Anthony Turner, professor emeritus, he has led the study.
Just as in biological muscles, the glucose is directly converted to motion in the artificial muscles.
“When we had fully integrated enzymes on both sides of the actuator and it actually moved – well, it was just amazing”, says Jose Martinez, a member of the research group.
The next step for the researchers will be to control the biochemical reactions in the enzymes, such that the motion can be reversible for many cycles. They have already demonstrated that the motion is reversible, but they had to use a small trick to do so. Now they want to create a system that is even closer to a biological muscle. The researchers also want to test the concept using other actuators as the “textile muscle”, and apply it in microrobotics.
“Glucose is available in all organs of the body, and it’s a useful substance to start with. But it is possible to switch to other enzymes, which would enable the actuator to be used in, for example, autonomous microrobots for environmental monitoring in lakes. The advances we present here make it possible to power actuators with energy from substances in their natural surroundings”, says Edwin Jager.
Learn more: Artificial muscles powered by glucose
The Latest on: Artificial muscles
via Google News
The Latest on: Artificial muscles
- Crystalline 'artificial muscle' makes paper doll do sit-upson July 17, 2019 at 7:39 am
What do you think about this particular story? Your feedback will go directly to Science X editors. ... […]
- MIT’s artificial muscles could benefit robots and medical deviceson July 16, 2019 at 6:46 am
MIT has taken inspiration from the way a cucumber plant grows to create contracting fibers that imitate the coiling-and-pulling mechanisms that the cucumber plant uses to pull itself upwards to get ... […]
- Artificial muscles go with the twiston July 15, 2019 at 7:22 am
Artificial muscles could be employed in a host of applications, including miniaturized medical devices, robotics and smart textiles that respond to changes in their environment. Most such muscles ... […]
- Artificial Muscle Fibers for Biomedical Applicationson July 12, 2019 at 10:21 am
Scientists at MIT have taken inspiration from cucumber tendrils, the helical offshoots that grab onto fences and anything else they can, to create artificial muscle-like fibers. The new fibers can ... […]
- This “Artificial Muscle” is 60 Times Stronger Than a Human Oneon July 12, 2019 at 8:08 am
A team of scientists figured out a surprisingly simple way to create muscles that can lift 1,000 times their own weight: they tightly coiled-up commonly fibers from bamboo or silk. By applying or ... […]
- Artificial muscles created by scientists are 100x STRONGER than humans'on July 12, 2019 at 6:32 am
Three independent groups of researchers have designed powerful artificial muscles that are around 100 times stronger than ours. The synthetic muscles are are designed around coiled or coiling fibres ... […]
- Engineers develop ‘artificial muscles’ 40 times stronger than human muscleson July 12, 2019 at 2:25 am
An international team of engineers in US and China have developed powerful artificial muscles which can generate power 40 times that of human muscles. A study published online on Thursday in the ... […]
- Artificial 'muscles' achieve powerful pulling forceon July 11, 2019 at 7:35 pm
As a cucumber plant grows, it sprouts tightly coiled tendrils that seek out supports in order to pull the plant upward. This ensures the plant receives as much sunlight exposure as possible. Now, ... […]
- Stronger artificial muscles, with a twiston July 11, 2019 at 12:55 pm
1 Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Il 61801, USA. 2 The Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois ... […]
- A New Twist on Artificial Muscleson July 11, 2019 at 12:13 pm
Tiny artificial muscles (such as this 216-micron-diameter nylon yarn sheathed in carbon nanotubes) can easily exert more power as they contract, based on their weight, than human muscle can. Credit: ... […]
via Bing News