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Artificial Muscle

Electrify and it conracts
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The people at GE developed a way to mix metal and rubber, using Mercury...hence magentic rubber. Theres a type of metal, NiTi, which contracts with great force when a current or heat is applied. The only problem is, metal is dense and cannot contract in on itself very fast, and it heats itself up from the friction. So i was thinking...use the GE solution and combine (by metling them both and adding Hg) NiTi and a type of conductive rubber that can be ordered in sheets. Wouldnt that give you a material that was slightly less felxible than rubber, lightweight, and contracts when current is passed through it?
Taunton, Feb 14 2001

Artificial muscle research http://www.unm.edu/~amri/
[beauxeault, Feb 14 2001, last modified Oct 21 2004]

ABC News story about artificial muscle research http://abcnews.go.c...s/muscle980929.html
[beauxeault, Feb 14 2001, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Shape Memory Alloys http://smart.tamu.edu/
A company specializing in the applications of NiTi using the SMA effect [Wes, Feb 14 2001, last modified Oct 21 2004]

[link]






       Acrylic fibers treated with a magic potion (not really magic, just undisclosed) contract with useful amounts of force (see links). Not exactly the approach you suggest, but it achieves the result you're after.
beauxeault, Feb 14 2001
  

       I don't know, Taunton, why don't you try it?   

       I know my understanding of metallurgy and materials science is far, far too limited to even begin to speculate on what materials can be usefully combined with what other materials. Is yours?   

       You seem to be taking the fact "Mercury can be used in (understated complex process) to combine a (unstated) ferromagnetic metal with a (particular kind of) rubber to create rubber with ferromagnetic properties" and generalizing to "It's apparently possible to take any metal, combine it with mercury and rubber, and create a substance which has all the useful properties of the original metal, but is bouncy and weighs less".   

       Like I say, I don't know enough to dispute your assertion, but I'm pretty skeptical.   

       Besides, your idea is a bit of a non sequitur. The "only problem" (sic -- you list three problems) with using nitinol directly (you claim) is that it's "dense, cannot contract in on itself very fast, and it heats itself up from the friction". I fail to see how rubberizing nitinol would help the last two points, and you're asserting that it will help the first without any basis. (Wouldn't you expect the contractive ability to be correlated with the amount of nitinol, and that adding rubber would just make it heavier?)
egnor, Feb 14 2001
  

       Hmmm. Please post a link to the GE "mercury and rubber" news.

As far as I know, NiTi, or Nitinol, is reactive to heat, not electrical current. Nitinol has what's known as thermal shape memory (a shape memory alloy whose behavior is caused by a thermoelastic martensitic, or austenitic, phase transformation). It is pliable when cold, but when warmed it rapidly assumes the same shape, stiffness, and ductility that it had the last time it was warm.
bristolz, Feb 14 2001
  

       these artificial muscles already exist. strands of fiber that contract in response to electricity. i saw this on a show like Nova, they had a glass eye attatched to 4 artificial muscles that would rotate the eye in any direction via a remote control. this was several years ago, they were developing the technology for use in prosthetic limbs.
mr shrum, Mar 22 2001
  

       i read somewhere that there is a shirt with NiTi in it that rolls up its sleeves when its hot and can be 'ironed' by blowing it with a hairdryer. it cost at least $2000.
chud, Mar 15 2002
  
      
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