More and more aspects of our society are taking on artificial traits in this day and age. That is not entirely abnormal, as there are many artificial breakthroughs which can user in a better future. When it comes to artificial muscles, there are a lot of potential use cases waiting to be explored. An interesting future lies ahead in this regard, depending on which products prove to be viable.
The Purpose of Artificial Muscles
Unlike what most people might assume, the artificial muscles being actively discussed by scientists around the world have nothing to do with the human body, at least for now. Instead, the objective is to find new use cases for this form of technology, including smart textiles, medical devices, and so forth. Research into artificial muscles has been going on for quite some time now, but it seems some major breakthroughs are looming on the horizon.
To date, most of these projects have yielded muscles which are cumbersome and slow to respond to changes in their environment. Thanks to a newly discovered fiber-based design, both of these problems can be addressed at the same time. Making artificial muscles lighter and faster can unlock a lot of potential new use cases in the years ahead. More importantly, they can be produced in large quantities without much friction, which is rather intriguing to keep an eye on moving forward.
As to how these muscles work, they can be activated by heat and lift over 600 times its own weight. This strength and agility do not diminish even after thousands of use cycles, which seems to indicate the material is quite durable. It is expected these muscles can be bundled together to create more powerful solutions capable of lifting heavier loads. That is one option to explore as far as medical devices are concerned, as those are very different from smart clothing.
For the time being, there is still a lot of research required to determine how and if these artificial muscles will prove beneficial to society. It is not ideal for engineering applications, as heat needs to be applied externally to achieve actuation. That is one of the big hurdles which needs to be overcome, albeit one that may prove rather difficult to conquer. Integrating internal heating elements is one way of dealing with this drawback.
Research into artificial muscles has been heating up as of late. A different team at the University of Texas in Dallas managed to design a different fiber-based solution. In doing so, they noticed how the product can generate 40 times as much as mechanical energy per second compared to human muscle. A very big step up from any technology used today, although implementing it won’t be too straightforward either. The inner core of these muscles is still rather stiff, which will require a bit more fine-tuning.
Finding the right applications and use cases for these new discoveries will take some time. Although the potential applications are limitless on paper, this technology will not necessarily make a mainstream impact for quite some to come. Researchers are excited about what the future will bring, as all of these discoveries are groundbreaking in their own regard. Every day is a new day in the world of science, as new discoveries and use cases await.