A new ultra-thin muscle for light robotics was developed by a group of researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). The new actuator looks like a thin strip of paper about two and a half centimeters long. It is made of MXene, a particular material made of a class of compounds that are very thin, only a few atoms thick.
In particular, they used layers of MXene made of titanium and carbon compounds. The same MXene is connected to a synthetic polymer via an ionic bond so that it becomes flexible but retains the resistance of the conductivity. The latter is essential for an artificial muscle because, in order to contract and generally imitate human muscles, it uses electricity as a stimulus.
According to the press release on the KAIST website, this new artificial muscle works better than others and reacts very quickly to low tension. It can also be in continuous motion for more than five hours.
The researchers conducted a test that included the small electronic muscle in a particular pin that mimics the way a flower opens its petals when a small amount of electricity is applied to it. They also designed robotic butterflies that moved their wings to perform tests.