Today’s Solutions: June 29, 2022

Imitating the human body artificially has been a growing field of research. This technology has applications across several fields including prosthetic limbs, robotics, organ transplants, and more. The only problem is the highly complex processes and the expensive and rare materials it takes to put these together.

A team from the University of Texas has just taken forward the accessibility and simplicity of artificial muscle fibers, while still maintaining their effectiveness. These novel fibers are simple to make and recyclable, making this technique much better than other options that currently exist.

The group’s paper was published in Nature Nano where they detailed their invention as well as discussed the benefits of artificial muscle fibers. “You can basically build a limb from these fibers in a robot that responds to stimuli and returns power, instead of using a mechanical motor to do this, and that’s good because then it will have a softer touch,” said Manish Kumar, one of the lead authors of the paper.

What are the nano-fibers made from?

The fibers are made of a material known as a block copolymer which assembles when placed in a solvent and water, it’s really as simple as that! What’s more this “cross-linking” can be reversed in a simple process, allowing simple recycling of the fibers.

“The ease of making these fibers from the polymer and their recyclability are very important, and it’s an aspect that much of the other complicated artificial muscle research doesn’t cover,” stated Kumar.

What are the applications of these fibers?

There are many potential applications in medicine and robotics for these kinds of nano-based muscle fibers. For example, in assistive robotics where a kind of exoskeleton helps people with weak arms regain muscle and strength. Another possible use of these fibers is self-closing bandages that can naturally degrade inside the body after surgery, eliminating the need for removal surgeries.

Source study: Nature NanoNanostructured block copolymer muscles

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