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March 19th, 2008
Researchers in California have created an artificial muscle that heals itself and generates electricity.
The research, parts of which are already being used in Japan to generate electricity from ocean waves, could be used to make walking robots, develop better prosthetics, or even charge your iPod.
"We've made an artificial muscle that, when you apply electricity to it, it expands" more than 200 percent, said Qibing Pei, a scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles and study author. "The motion and energy is a lot like human muscles."
Artificial muscles have been around for years but have essentially hamstrung themselves. Some artificial muscles get so big they tear, developing uneven film thickness and random particles that cause muscle failure.
The researchers used flexible, ever-more ubiquitous carbon nanotubes as electrodes instead of other films, often metal-based, that fail after repeated use.
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