Small muscles to have big impact on smart clothing
Australian scientists are among a team to develop a new artificial muscle with exciting possibilities for use in self-powered intelligent textiles that could automatically react to environmental conditions like heat or sweat.
Researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES) at the University of Wollongong are part of a team spread across four continents, to develop the new hybrid yarn muscle.
The hybrid yarn muscles are based on carbon nanotubes which are hollow cylinders just one carbon atom thick like the layers of graphite. On their own, carbon nanotubes are about 10,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair but they can be 100 times stronger than steel.
Researchers combine the nanotubes with a wax material like household candles, the result being a single thread of yarn around 10 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, that can lift over 100,000 times its own weight and generate 85 times higher mechanical output that natural skeletal muscles.
“When heated, either electrically or with a flash of light, the wax in the yarn muscles expands, causing contraction of the nanotube yarn and generating a very large contraction,” according to ACES researcher Professor Geoff Spinks.
Unlike other artificial muscles, the hybrid yarn muscles are fully dry so actuation can be triggered from changes in environmental temperature or the presence of chemical agents, making them perfect for use as self-powered intelligent materials.
Using the advanced customised technology of the Australian National Fabrication Facility that is housed at ACES’ Wollongong NSW node, scientists can move to the next exciting step of weaving, sewing, braiding and knitting the hybrid yarn muscles.
“The yarns could be used to create intelligent fabrics that can open and close the porosity of the fabric to allow heat in or keep it out, or release moisture,” ACES researcher and fabrication expert Dr Javad Foroughi said, who has also just been awarded a three-year fellowship from the Australian Research Council to develop intelligent fabrics.
Other applications for the yarns could include robots, catheters, micro-motors, tuneable optical systems and even toys.
The research is published today (Friday 16 November) in Science.
+61 2 4221 4227 | firstname.lastname@example.org
UOW IN THE NEWS
Want to keep cool on hot summer days?..
The Conversation | 23 Jan
Resilience in the workplace
ABC Health & Wellbeing | 22 Jan
Cry for Alberto Nisman and for Argentina
The Australian | 22 Jan
Check the ATAR cut-off for your cours...
Sydney Morning Herald | 21 Jan
Personality disorders: hospital staff to...
Sydney Morning Herald | 20 Jan
Scientists use magnets to help in the...
Nine News | 19 Jan
Is Indonesia’s ‘Sink the Vessels’ Policy ...
The Diplomat | 17 Jan
A maritime center of gravity
Jakarta Post | 17 Jan
Time to get governance house in order...
The Australian | 16 Jan
Top 10 things employers look for in univ...
Sydney Morning Herald | 15 Jan
Playing sport at uni a smart career move
Sydney Morning Herald | 15 Jan
Engineering a change in gender balan...
ABC Illawarra | 14 Jan
Indigenous trauma course: University ...
The Age | 12 Jan
Aussies show solidarity on Paris streets
9News | 8 Jan
Australian in Paris describes city's...
AM | 8 Jan
Tweet data used for mapping floods
Illawarra Mercury | 5 Jan
What is the right age for kids to travel...
The Conversation | 5 Jan
The moral dilemma of death on the...
Financial Review | 2 Jan