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Carbon Nanotube Muscle Motors

Carbon Nanotube Muscle Motors

Carbon Nanotube Muscle Motors

Scientists have used carbon nanotubes to engineer the most powerful artificial muscles ever with potential applications in everything from cancer therapies to portable electronics.

In nanoscale engineering, the term "artificial muscle" is used to refer to materials that can change their shape in response to stimuli.

These muscles were created by twisting together billions of microscopic, straw-like carbon nanotubes into filamentous strands of "yarn", each with a diameter one-tenth of a human hair.

When one of these threads is immersed in an electrolyte (in this case an electrically conductive solution of ions) and the other is attached to a voltage supply, its constituent fibers "absorb" ions from the surrounding solution, causing them to expand. As the yarn swells, its untethered end is free to rotate. Reversing the voltage causes the thread to coil back in the other direction. The behave a little like the muscles found in elephant trunks and squid tentacles.

Researchers say these tiny little motors could soon be used to propel microscopic nanobots throughout your bloodstream and a team was able to create a nanoscale motor capable of spinning at nearly 600 rpms, and turning a weight 2,000 times heavier than the yarn itself.


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