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Synthetic fiber 'muscles' could lead to brawny robots and prosthetics

Synthetic fiber 'muscles' could lead to brawny robots and prosthetics

Most attempts at giving robots muscles tend to be heavy, slow or both. Scientists might finally have a solution that's both light and nimble, though. They've developed fibers that can serve as artificial muscles for robots while remaining light, responsive and powerful. They bonded two polymers with very different thermal expansion rates (a cyclic copolymer elastomer and a thermoplastic polyethylene) that reacts with a strong pulling force when subjected to even slight changes in heat. They're so strong that just one fiber can lift up to 650 times its weight, and response times can be measured in milliseconds.