December 23, 2013
Berkley researchers come with robotic ‘muscle’ 1000 times stronger than human’s
A team of researchers from U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has developed a new robotic muscle which is thousand times more powerful than a human muscle and is capable to catapult objects 50 times heavier than itself – faster than the blink of an eye. Micro-sized robotic torsional muscle/motor which was demonstrated by the group of scientist is made up of vanadium dioxide. Vanadium dioxide is a superstar in the material world and is highly coveted by the electronics industry as it is one of the few known materials that’s an insulator at low temperatures but abruptly becomes a conductor at 67 degrees Celsius. “We’ve created a micro-bimorph dual coil that functions as a powerful torsional muscle, driven thermally or electro-thermally by the phase transition of vanadium dioxide,” said the leader of the research group, Junqiao Wu. “Using a simple design and inorganic materials, we achieve superior performance in power density and speed over the motors and actuators now used in integrated micro-systems.”
We might be overzealous to compare the research with its application in creating terminator-style super robots that can throw around cars like little toys, but the researchers say it is a little too early to make the comparison as the mechanism in question is currently the size of a microchip. But the groundbreaking research does open doors to many amazing scientific applications. Using the technology, robots can get much smaller yet a lot more effective and efficient.
[Via – Berkley-Labs]