Washington: Researchers have developed an ultrathin, artificial muscle for soft robotics called an actuator. The advancement recently reported in the journal ‘Science Robotics’ was demonstrated with a robotic blooming flower brooch, dancing robotic butterflies and fluttering tree leaves on a kinetic art piece.
It contracts or rotates like muscle fibres using a stimulus such as electricity. Engineers around the world are striving to develop more dynamic actuators that respond quickly, can bend without breaking, and are very durable.
Soft, robotic muscles could have a wide variety of applications, from wearable electronics to advanced prosthetics. The team from KAIST’s Creative Research Initiative Center for Functionally Antagonistic Nano-Engineering developed robotic muscle that looks like a skinny strip of paper about an inch long. They used a particular type of material called MXene, which is a class of compounds that have layers only a few atoms thick.
To prove the tiny robotic muscle works, the team incorporated the actuator into wearable art: an origami-inspired brooch mimics how a narcissus flower unfolds its petals when a small amount of electricity is applied.
“Wearable robotics and kinetic art demonstrate how robotic muscles can have fun and beautiful applications. It also shows the enormous potential for small, artificial muscles for a variety of uses, such as haptic feedback systems and active biomedical devices,” said Il-Kwon Oh, lead paper author and professor of mechanical engineering.