Would strong, fast-transforming artificial muscles be possible?

Would strong, fast-transforming artificial muscles be possible?

Schematic diagram of ion channel formation within a polymer electrolyte. credit: Postech

In the American action movie Pacific Rim, giant robots named Jaeger battle unknown monsters to save humanity. These robots are equipped with artificial muscles that simulate real living bodies and defeat monsters with strength and speed. Research is underway on outfitting real robots with artificial muscles like the ones shown in the movie. However, strong force and high speed cannot be achieved in artificial muscles, because the mechanical strength (force) and conductivity (velocity) of polymer electrolytes – the main materials that drive a motor – have conflicting properties.

A POSTECH research team led by Professor Moon Jeong Park, Professor Chang Yun-sun, and Research Professor Rui Yang Wang from the Department of Chemistry developed a new concept of polymer electrolytes with different functional groups located at a distance of 2Å. This polymer electrolyte is capable of both ionic and hydrogen bonding interactions, which opens the possibility of resolving these contradictions. The results of this study were recently published in advanced materials.

Artificial muscles are used to make robots move their limbs as naturally as humans can. to drive this artificial muscles-A trigger that displays mechanical shifting under low voltage conditions is required. However, due to the nature of the electrolyte polymer used in the actuator, force and velocity cannot be simultaneously achieved due to the increased muscle strength Shift speed slows down and over speed reduces force.

To overcome the limitations presented thus far, the research presented the innovative concept of a bifunctional polymer. By forming a one-dimensional ion channel several nanometers wide within the polymer matrix, which is as solid as glass, it is a super-ionized material. Polymer electrolyte With both high ionic conductivity and mechanical strength been achieved.

  • Would strong, fast-transforming artificial muscles be possible?

    Chemical structure of a bifunctional polymer unit. credit: Postech

  • Would strong, fast-transforming artificial muscles be possible?

    Different operating motions of the LV actuator. credit: Postech

The findings from this study have the potential to create innovations in soft robots And wearable technology where it can be applied to develop an unprecedented artificial muscle that connects a portable battery (1.5 volts), produces rapid switching of several milliseconds (thousandths of a second), and great power. Moreover, these results are expected to be applied in the next generation of all-solid-state electrochemical devices and highly stable lithium-metal batteries.

A new path for designing next-generation polymer-based batteries

more information:
Rui‐ Yang Wang et al, Ultra-high performance bi-functional polymer electrolytes for solid energy storage and conversion, advanced materials (2022). DOI: 10.1002 / adma.202203413

Provided by Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH)

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