Artificial muscles of a new generation have been created: they are electrochemically controlled

Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas have created powerful unipolar electrochemical muscles,

which contract more actively when they move faster.

For more than 15 years, researchers fromThe University of Texas at Dallas and their counterparts in the United States, Australia, South Korea, and China have made artificial muscles by twisting and winding carbon nanotubes or polymer strands. When temperatures change, these muscles work, contracting their length when heated and returning to their original length when cooled. However, they have their limitations.

Electrochemically controlled muscles made from carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are an alternative approach to creating fast, powerful, artificial muscles that can be applied to robotics and other applications.

Electrochemically controlled muscles especiallypromising because their energy conversion efficiency is not limited by the thermodynamic limit: they can contract more strongly, and they can also withstand heavy loads without consuming a lot of energy.

But there are limitations for electrochemicalmuscles CNT. First, muscle stimulation is bipolar, meaning that muscle movement, expansion or contraction changes direction during a potential scan. The potential at which a stroke changes direction is the zero charge potential, and the rate at which the potential changes over time is the potential scan rate.

Another question: this electrolyte is stable only in a certain voltage range. Outside this range, the electrolyte is destroyed.

To solve these problems, researchersfound out that the inner surfaces of the spiral filaments of carbon nanotubes can be coated with a certain ion-conducting polymer, which contains either positively or negatively charged chemical groups.

This polymer coating transforms the bipolarexcitation of filaments of carbon nanotubes into unipolar excitation, when the muscle acts in one direction over the entire range of electrolyte stability. The number of solvent molecules pumped into the muscle by each ion increases with the potential scan rate for some unipolar muscles, which increases the effective size of the ions.

Thus, muscle travel can be increased by 3.8times with an increase in the potential scanning speed, while the muscle movement from a carbon nanotube without a polymer coating decreases 4.2 times with the same changes in the potential scanning speed.

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