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
- Cutting edge: Artificial Intelligence can now predict your lifetimeon November 15, 2019 at 7:49 am
As the muscles in his body lose their power completely ... AI knows something we don’t A report in the New Scientist says Artificial Intelligence can predict a person’s chances of dying within the ...
- Google flexes its conversational AI muscle with updates to Contact Center AI and CallJoyon November 15, 2019 at 12:06 am
Contact Center AI was first announced in July, and is powered by Google’s Dialogflow conversational artificial intelligence engine, which helps to automate interactions with customers in call ...
- Bank on steroids: Once lanky UnionBank builds up digital muscleson November 14, 2019 at 1:51 pm
These will be serviced by artificial intelligence, envisioned to be a “super app.” This is also in line with the overarching goal of financial inclusion. Unionbank’s “moonshot” goal is to touch 50 ...
- Terminally ill scientist replumbed as a Cyborgon November 14, 2019 at 1:27 pm
He underwent complex operations and procedures to reach where he is at present he said. He first developed a life like avatar of his face before the illness wasted his muscles away. This robotic face ...
- New heights for artificial intelligenceon November 13, 2019 at 1:42 pm
... brain regions and muscles is essential for understanding brain-muscle interaction and for quantitative prediction of limb and joint movements. Such models can be invaluable in the diagnosis and ...
- How Starbucks Is Using Artificial Intelligenceon November 8, 2019 at 1:25 pm
While I no longer get to exercise my analytical muscles with linguistics, it's rewarding to analyze business and share ... Called Deep Brew, this isn't about a flavor of coffee or tea. Deep Brew is ...
- Harvard researchers RoboBee is powered by soft artificial muscleson November 6, 2019 at 3:59 am
The scientists behind RoboBee have developed a new and resilient version of the robot that is powered by soft artificial muscles that can crash into things without being damaged. The flying robot is ...
- RoboBee powered by soft muscleson November 4, 2019 at 11:02 am
Researchers have developed a resilient RoboBee powered by soft artificial muscles that can crash into walls, fall onto the floor, and collide with other RoboBees without being damaged. It is the first ...
- RoboBee powered by soft artificial muscles can crash into walls without being damagedon November 4, 2019 at 9:29 am
The invention marks the first microrobot powered by soft artificial muscles that has achieved a controlled flight. Researchers in the Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory at the Harvard John A. Paulson ...
- Resilient robotic bees' soft muscles allows them to crash into walls unharmedon November 4, 2019 at 9:18 am
Please try again later. Submitting... This latest version is the first microrobot to fly using soft artificial muscles (actuators) made from dielectric elastomers (soft materials with good ...
via Bing News