Design Engineering

Researchers create ultrathin artificial muscle from 2D nanomaterial

By DE Staff   


KAIST scientists’ MXene-based material improves response time and durability of artificial muscle.

Researchers from KAIST’s Creative Research Initiative Center for Functionally Antagonistic Nano-Engineering have developed a very thin, responsive, flexible and durable artificial muscle. The actuator, which looks like a skinny strip of paper, is made from MXene, a titanium and carbon compound only a few atoms thick. To increase the material’s flexibility, the MXene was ionically cross-linked to a synthetic polymer. The combination of materials made the actuator flexible, while still maintaining strength and conductivity, the researchers say.

In a recent paper, reported in the journal Science Robotics, the MXene-based artificial muscle showed a response time within 1 second and withstood large bending strains over 18,000 cycles during five hours of continuous movement.

To prove the tiny robotic muscle works, the team incorporated the actuator into wearable art: An origami-inspired brooch that unfolds its petals when a small amount of electricity is applied and robotic butterflies that move their wings up and down.

“Wearable robotics and kinetic art demonstrate how robotic muscles can have fun and beautiful applications,” said Il-Kwon Oh, lead paper author and a professor of mechanical engineering. “It also shows the enormous potential for small, artificial muscles for a variety of uses, such as haptic feedback systems and active biomedical devices.”


The team next plans to investigate more practical applications of MXene-based soft actuators and other engineering applications of MXene 2D nanomaterials.


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