Nano Super Músculo


Na WIRED de ontem:

Carbon Nanotube Muscles Strong as Diamond, Flexible as Rubber

By Brandon Keim EmailMarch 19, 2009 | 1:24:45 


 For the next installment of the Terminator franchise, Hollywood might skip the polymimetic liquid alloys — they’re so 2003 — and turn to the laboratory of Ray Baughman, who has created a next-generation muscle from carbon nanotubes.

Baughman and his colleagues have produced a formulation that’s stronger than steel, as light as air and more flexible than rubber — a truly 21st century muscle. It could be used to make artificial limbs, “smart” skins, shape-changing structures, ultra-strong robots and — in the immediate future — highly-efficient solar cells.

“We can generate about 30 times the force per unit area of natural muscle,” said Baughman, director of the NanoTech Institute at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Carbon nanotubes have fascinated material scientists since the early 1990s, when researchers started to explore the ultra-light, ultra-strong cylindrical molecules. Though bulk manufacturing difficulties have slowed the development of commercial applications, carbon nanotubes are already used in bicycle components, and in prototypes ofairplanesbulletproof clothingtransistors, and ropes that might someday be used to tether a space elevator. (On a historical note, carbon nanotube-infused steel was used to made Damascus blades, renowned as history’s sharpest swords, though the technique has been lost.)

Baughman became interested in carbon nanotubes while designing artificial muscles from energy-conducting polymers. He figured he could do the job better with linked carbon nanotubes. First he madehaphazard tangles of fibers activated by charged liquids. Then he experimented with more structurally-consistent configurations, and other methods of delivering the charge.

His latest muscle, described Thursday in Science, is made from bundles of vertically aligned nanotubes that respond directly to electricity. Lengthwise, the muscle can expand and contract with tremendous speed; from side-to-side, it’s super-stiff. Its possibilities may only be limited by the imaginations of engineers.

Citations: “Giant-Stroke, Superelastic Carbon Nanotube Aerogel Muscles.” By Ali E. Aliev, Jiyoung Oh, Mikhail E. Kozlov, Alexander A. Kuznetsov, Shaoli Fang, Alexandre F. Fonseca, Raquel Ovalle, Márcio D. Lima, Mohammad H. Haque, Yuri N. Gartstein, Mei Zhang, Anvar A. Zakhidov, Ray H. Baughman. Science, Vol. 323 Issue 5921, March 19, 2009.

“Stiffer Than Steel.” By John D. W. Madden. Science, Vol. 323 Issue 5921, March 19, 2009.

Image and Videos: Ray Baughman


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