Report

Torsional Carbon Nanotube Artificial Muscles

Science  28 Oct 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6055, pp. 494-497
DOI: 10.1126/science.1211220

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Abstract

Rotary motors of conventional design can be rather complex and are therefore difficult to miniaturize; previous carbon nanotube artificial muscles provide contraction and bending, but not rotation. We show that an electrolyte-filled twist-spun carbon nanotube yarn, much thinner than a human hair, functions as a torsional artificial muscle in a simple three-electrode electrochemical system, providing a reversible 15,000° rotation and 590 revolutions per minute. A hydrostatic actuation mechanism, as seen in muscular hydrostats in nature, explains the simultaneous occurrence of lengthwise contraction and torsional rotation during the yarn volume increase caused by electrochemical double-layer charge injection. The use of a torsional yarn muscle as a mixer for a fluidic chip is demonstrated.

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