Robots Flex Those Polymers

from the busting-those-laser-fast-moves dept

Japanese researchers have found that exposing N-isopropylacrylamide to laser light can induce muscle like contraction within the polymer. This process is reversible and could be used in the construction of synthetic muscles with fine movement capabilities. The use of this polymer is still in its early stages but it could be used in the construction of synthetic human limbs and of course robotic appendages.

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Comments on “Robots Flex Those Polymers”

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u2604ab says:


This article is overhype. It’s not much different than dehydrating and rehydrating an acrylamide gel. It curls up. big deal.

Make a useful device with this and I’ll be impressed. But to say you can make a gel reversibly change dimensions and get excited about it makes you look like a wanker. Help me out here, polymer chemists.

mhh5 says:

Re: overhype

OK, I wouldn’t go so far to say anyone here looks like a wanker. But I will agree that this is a proof-of-concept type experiment. Like so many scientific publications that are “high profile publish-able” but without much merit, the technology behind this achievement isn’t that amazing, but the concept still needed to be shown to work *somehow*… So my conclusion about this is, yeah, cool, but it’ll probably end up in the 90% of articles in Science that don’t amount to anything.

Ryan says:

Re: Re: overhype

u2604ab,you definately need to take a chill pill. I’m just wondering what you do in your part of the world that has left you so bitter, maybe an unenjoyable job?

Back to the issue at hand, I’m not getting really excited about it but it is an interesing little piece of information and of course I did state that it was in its early stages. Your probably right in stating that it isn’t a huge discovery. it’s one of those discoveries that aren’t sexy but could be extremely useful if it is adopted (sort of like the the discovery of the milk carton, not really cool but definately useful).

Ryan says:

muscle wire

While this is a new substance, it’s not a new idea. I have a friend who did an engineering project for his final year constructing a ‘robot’ out of wood and muscle wire. It looked like a spider, and the wire would shorten when current was applied to it, then go back to its original length when the current was removed, causing motion. It could only shrink something like 4 or 5% without permanent damage, but it was enough to get the spider to walk a little bit. Sure it was rickety and unstable, but this was a couple of students with a couple hundred bucks, which basically all went towards buying wire.

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