In a paper published in the prestigious journal Science, an international research team including Hub Chief Investigator Prof Joe Razal and Deakin researcher Dr Alex Qin, describe an important breakthrough in the development of artificial muscles.

The research team, which includes scientists from the United States, South Korea, China and Australia, fabricated artificial muscles by twisting and coiling carbon nanotube or polymer yarns. The muscles actuate by contracting their length when heated and returning to their initial length when cooled.

Titled “Unipolar stroke, electroosmotic pump carbon nanotube yarn muscles“, the paper describes a breakthrough in the practical use of these materials, which allows the artificial muscles to work efficiently at room temperature without the need for heating or cooling. Instead, the new muscles are actuated by an electrochemical process, with the researchers overcoming several obstacles that had previously limited the efficiency of electrochemically driven carbon nanotube artificial muscles.

The work was carried out in collaboration with the University of Texas at Dallas, University of Illinois, Changzhou University, Jiangsu University, Harbin Institute of Technology, Hanyang University, Seoul National University, University of Wollongong, Opus 12 and MilliporeSigma.