PerspectiveMaterials Science

Carbon Nanotube Muscles

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Science  21 May 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5418, pp. 1281-1282
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5418.1281

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There is growing interest in miniature electromechanical devices to perform a variety of tasks, including replacement of biological muscle tissue. Artificial muscles may be a long way off, but as Inganäs and Lundstrüm discuss in their Perspective, mechanical actuators driven by electrochemical forces are now a reality. The authors discuss results reported in the same issue by Baughman et al., in which a new class of actuators based on carbon nanotubes is described. Mats of nanotubes expand and contract when placed as the electrodes in an electrochemical cell. Such devices complement other actuators made from polymeric materials.