Researchers have created powerful artificial muscles from fishing line for a fraction of the price of carbon nanotubes.
While artificial muscles are typically made from materials like carbon nanotubes, which are expensive and difficult to produce, a group of researchers has made a breakthrough that may revolutionize the world of materials science. By using simple fishing line, these researchers have created some of the most powerful artificial muscles ever produced, at a fraction of the cost of traditional materials.
“The energy per cycle that we obtain from these artificial muscles, and their weightlifting abilities, are extraordinary,” says Ray Baughman, director of the NanoTech Institute at the University of Texas at Dallas. “They can lift about 100 times heavier weight and generate about 100-times higher power than natural muscle of the same weight and length.”
Baughman and his team use a simple process to twist the fishing line until it coils in on itself like a spring. The resulting “muscle fibers” can then be triggered by different stimuli, such as heating and cooling. Existing artificial muscle technologies are more difficult to produce, generally less efficient, and orders of magnitude more expensive than the simple high-strength polymer fiber of fishing line. One kilogram of fishing line costs $5; the same quantity of carbon nanotubes costs $5,000.