Nitinol microwires of 25 μm in diameter can have tensile actuation of up to 4.5% in less than 100 ms. A work density of up to 480 MPa can be achieved from these microwires. In the present work, we are showing that by twisting the microwires in form of closed-loop two-ply yarn we can create a torsional actuator. We achieved a revisable torsional stroke of 46°/mm with peak rotational speed of up to 10,000 rpm. We measured a gravimetric torque of up to 28.5 N•m/kg which is higher than the 3 – 6 N•m/kg for direct-drive commercial electric motors. These remarkable performance results are comparable to those of guest-infiltrated carbon nanotube twisted yarns.
Highly oriented nylon and polyethylene fibers shrink in length and expand in diameter when heated. Using this property, in this work, for the first time we are introducing a type of bending artificial muscle from nylon filaments such as fishing line. Reversible radius of curvature of 0.23 mm-1 was achieved with maximum reversible bending amplitude of 115 mm for the nylon bending actuator. Peak force of up to 2040 mN was measured with a catch-state force of up to 40% of the active force. A 3 dB roll-off frequency of around 0.7 Hz was observed in the frequency response of the bending actuator in water.
High-performance artificial muscles have been produced from fibers having highly anisotropic thermal expansion. Inserting twist into these precursor fibers enables thermally-driven torsional actuation and can cause the formation of helical coils. Such coiled structures provide giant-stroke tensile actuation exceeding the 20% in-vivo contraction of natural muscles. This contraction is highly reversible, with over one million cycles demonstrated, and can occur without the hysteresis that plagues competing shape-memory and piezoelectric muscles. Several materials and composites are investigated, including low-cost, commercially-available muscle precursors, potentially facilitating thermally-responsive textiles that change porosity to provide wearer comfort.
Twisted carbon nanotube yarns have been shown to develop useful torsional and tensile actuation. Particularly useful are those hybrid yarns that incorporate a volume-changing guest material into the yarn pore space. Changing guest volume causes concomitant untwisting and shortening of the twisted yarn. Intriguingly, the magnitude of the tensile actuation can be increased by an order of magnitude by inserting such high twist into the fiber as to cause coiling. The mechanism of coil-induced stroke enhancement is investigated using ordinary spring mechanics and it is shown that tensile actuation can be adequately predicted from the coil and yarn geometries.
Highly oriented nylon and polyethylene fibres shrink in length when heated and expand in diameter. By twisting and then coiling monofilaments of these materials to form helical springs, the anisotropic thermal expansion has recently been shown to enable tensile actuation of up to 49% upon heating. Joule heating, by passing a current through a conductive coating on the surface of the filament, is a convenient method of controlling actuation. In previously reported work this has been done using highly flexible carbon nanotube sheets or commercially available silver coated fibres. In this work silver paint is used as the Joule heating element at the surface of the muscle. Up to 29% linear actuation is observed with energy and power densities reaching 840 kJ m-3 (528 J kg-1) and 1.1 kW kg-1 (operating at 0.1 Hz, 4% strain, 1.4 kg load). This simple coating method is readily accessible and can be applied to any polymer filament. Effective use of this technique relies on uniform coating to avoid temperature gradients.