2007 NSTI Nanotechnology Conference and Trade Show - Nanotech 2007 - 10th Annual

Synthetic Muscles from Block Copolymers

A.J. Ryan, P. Topham, C.J. Crook, J.R. Howse, S.P. Armes and R.A.L. Jones
The University of Sheffield, UK

Keywords:
synthetic muscles, block copolymers

Abstract:
A scalable synthetic muscle has been constructed that transducts nanoscale molecular shape changes into macroscopic motion. The working materials, which deform affinely in response to a pH stimulus, are self-assembled block copolymers comprising nanoscopic hydrophobic domains in either a weak polyacid or a weak polybase matrix. Devices have been assembled where the muscle does work on a cantilever and the force generated has been measured. When coupled to a chemical oscillator this provides a free running chemical motor that generates a peak power of 20 mW/kg by the serial addition of 10nm shape changes that scales over five orders of magnitude. It is the nanostructured nature of the the gel that gives rise to the affine deformation and results in a robust working material for the construction of scalable muscle devices. A ìpush-me pull-youî device has been constraucted such that the simultaneous expansion and contraction of polyacid and polybase materials are coupled in response to an oscillating reaction.

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