Scientists Create Super-Strong Micro 'Muscle'

Vanadium dioxide-based device is super fast, and the size of a microchip
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 26, 2013 1:50 PM CST
Scientists Create Super-Strong Micro 'Muscle'
A screenshot from an animation illustrating the muscle.   (YouTube)

A team of government scientists has created a microchip-sized robotic muscle capable of throwing objects 50 times heavier than itself a distance five times longer than its length in less than 60 milliseconds. The key to this wonder device is a material called vanadium dioxide, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory explains in a news release spotted by Raw Story. Researchers twisted a ribbon of the material into a coil that functions much like a torsional muscle. When heated, it becomes either a "micro-catapult" or a proximity sensor that can set off a "micro-explosion."

These two functions, when combined, simulate "living bodies where neurons sense and deliver stimuli to the muscles and the muscles provide motion," the project's leader explains. "Multiple micro-muscles can be assembled into a micro-robotic system that simulates an active neuromuscular system." Eventually, that could lead to powerful (dare we say super-powerful?) prosthetics or surgical devices. (More microchips stories.)

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