LOS ANGELES — By taking simple sewing thread and fishing line and giving it a twist, scientists have created artificial muscle that's 100 times stronger than human or animal sinew. The invention, described in the journal Science, could be useful for prosthetic limbs, humanoid robots, implanted medical devices and even wearable clothing.
This wouldn't be the first artificial muscle: There are carbon nanotube yarns and metal wires, but they're often expensive or store relatively low amounts of energy compared with their competitors, scientists said.
These new high-strength polymer fibers are made out of cheap, everyday materials that cost about $5 for 2.2 pounds, according to researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas.
The scientists think this could be useful for a number of applications that need muscle fibers, whether getting the faces of humanoid robots to move with more humanlike expressions or getting prosthetic limbs better muscle. The researchers already have created a textile with pores that expand and contract in response to heat, which could lead the way to adaptable, breathable clothing.