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While there is no general theory that allows for actuators to be compared, there are "power criteria" for artificial muscle technologies that allow for specification of new actuator technologies in comparison with natural muscular properties. In summary, the criteria include stress , strain , strain rate , cycle life, and elastic modulus. Some authors have considered other criteria Huber et al.


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Researchers measure the speed, energy density , power, and efficiency of artificial muscles; no one type of artificial muscle is the best in all areas. Artificial muscles can be divided into three major groups based on their actuation mechanism. Electroactive polymers EAPs are polymers that can be actuated through the application of electric fields.

Currently, the most prominent EAPs include piezoelectric polymers, dielectric actuators DEAs , electrostrictive graft elastomers , liquid crystal elastomers LCE and ferroelectric polymers. While these EAPs can be made to bend, their low capacities for torque motion currently limit their usefulness as artificial muscles.

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Moreover, without an accepted standard material for creating EAP devices, commercialization has remained impractical. However, significant progress has been made in EAP technology since the s. Ionic EAPs are polymers that can be actuated through the diffusion of ions in an electrolyte solution in addition to the application of electric fields.

Current examples of ionic electroactive polymers include polyelectrode gels, ionomeric polymer metallic composites IPMC , conductive polymers and electrorheological fluids ERF. In , it was demonstrated that twisted carbon nanotubes could also be actuated by applying an electric field. Twisted and coiled polymer TCP muscles also known as supercoiled polymer SCP are coiled polymer that can be actuated by electric power [12]. A TCP muscle looks like a helical spring. TCP muscles are usually made from silver coated Nylon. TCP muscle can also be made from other electrical conductance coat such as gold.

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TCP muscles should be under a load to keep the muscle extended. The electrical energy transforms to thermal energy due to electrical resistance, which also known as Joule heating , Ohmic heating, and resistive heating. As the temperature of the TCP muscle increases by Joule heating, the polymer contracts and it causes the muscle contraction.

Pneumatic artificial muscles PAMs operate by filling a pneumatic bladder with pressurized air. Upon applying gas pressure to the bladder, isotropic volume expansion occurs, but is confined by braided wires that encircle the bladder, translating the volume expansion to a linear contraction along the axis of the actuator.

Among the most commonly used PAMs today is a cylindrically braided muscle known as the McKibben Muscle, which was first developed by J. McKibben in the s. Artificial muscles constructed from ordinary fishing line and sewing thread can lift times more weight and generate times more power than a human muscle of the same length and weight. Artificial muscles based on fishing line already cost orders of magnitude less per pound than shape-memory alloy or carbon nanotube yarn; but currently have relatively poor efficiency.

Individual macromolecules are aligned with the fiber in commercially available polymer fibers. By winding them into coils, researchers make artificial muscles that contract at speeds similar to human muscles. One application of thermally-activated artificial muscles is to automatically open and close windows, responding to temperature without using any power.

Tiny artificial muscles composed of twisted carbon nanotubes filled with paraffin are times stronger than human muscle. Shape-memory alloys SMAs , liquid crystalline elastomers, and metallic alloys that can be deformed and then returned to their original shape when exposed to heat, can function as artificial muscles.


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Thermal actuator-based artificial muscles offer heat resistance, impact resistance, low density, high fatigue strength, and large force generation during shape changes. In , a new class of electric field-activated, electrolyte -free artificial muscles called "twisted yarn actuators" were demonstrated, based on the thermal expansion of a secondary material within the muscle's conductive twisted structure.

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The three types of artificial muscles have different constraints that affect the type of control system they require for actuation. It is important to note, however, that control systems are often designed to meet the specifications of a given experiment, with some experiments calling for the combined use of a variety of different actuators or a hybrid control schema. As such, the following examples should not be treated as an exhaustive list of the variety of control systems that may be employed to actuate a given artificial muscle.

A fuzzy controller can be used to speed up the PID controller [12]. EAPs offer lower weight, faster response, higher power density and quieter operation when compared to traditional actuators. Currently there are two types of pneumatic artificial muscles PAMs. The first type has a single bladder surrounded by a braided sleeve and the second type has a double bladder. Pneumatic artificial muscles, while lightweight and inexpensive, pose a particularly difficult control problem as they are both highly nonlinear and have properties, such as temperature, that fluctuate significantly over time.

He will also need to cut manufacturing costs by a factor of Although the next five years should see electroactive polymers used as components in microsurgical tools, drug delivery systems, and corrective aids, such advances may be only a beginning. To achieve more lifelike robots and prosthetic devices, scientists will need to make materials that are smarter and more interactive.

Within 10 years, researchers aim to develop artificial limbs that provide feedback to the user, graceful autonomous robots that are powered by musclelike polymers, and even suits that enhance the strength and endurance of soldiers and rescue personnel. If the research is successful, robotics may truly come to life.

Gregory T. Rewriting Life Electroactive Polymers. Artificial muscles made of electroactive polymers impart lifelike movements to biomedical and robotic devices. Author Gregory T. From our advertisers. We develop a fabrication technique for conducting polymer based actuators that could be up-scalable and enable facile integration of sensory feedback.

Electroactive Polymers (EAP) as Artificial Muscles (EPAM) for Robot Applications | Hizook

Actuators with high strains of 0. Recently, we have shown that sprayed carbon nanotube carpets can significantly reduce electrochemical creeping by facilitating charge and discharge of the conducting polymer and, consequently leads to a more reversible harmonic cycling. Merged images of the actuator at its extremities during actuation applying square wave with frequency of 50 mHz and 2. Actuator displacement profile vs time of a function of the applied voltages.

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