Methanol-fueled artificial muscles 100x stronger than the original
The first type of muscle is made from a nickel-titanium shape-memory wire coated in a platinum catalyst. When fumes of methanol, hydrogen and oxygen pass over the platinum coating, they react, releasing heat that warms the wire, making it contract. When the flow of fuel is stopped, the wire expands and returns to its original length. The wire muscle can generate 100 times the force of a natural muscle of the same size, says Baughman.
The team's second artificial muscle is made from sheets of carbon nanotubes, coated in a catalyst. It is not yet as powerful as the wire muscle, but could potentially overtake it, he says.
As the fuel reacts with oxygen above the surface of the nanotube sheet, it releases a charge that make the sheet expand. The big advantage of the nanotube muscle is that it can also act as a capacitor, storing up electric energy it does not immediately need for later use, Baughman explains.
This could be really exciting combined with robotic exoskeletons reported earlier. "Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound..."
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