Muscle power

Published: Thursday 31 October 1996

The flexibility, range of movements and speed of human muscles -- hard to reproduce in materials made by humans -- have long been the envy of material scientists and engineers. Now comes news of artificial muscles twice as strong and almost as fast as human muscles. Constructed by Mo Shahinpoor of the University of New Mexico in US, the devices use fibres of polyacrylonitrile in sheaths of latex through which a solution is pumped. The changes in the pH value of the solution can make the fibres contract ( Scientific American , May, 1996).

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