Toronto: New artificial muscles as flexible as an elephant's trunk but strong enough to rotate objects two thousand times their own weight, have been designed by researchers. Using yarns of carbon nanotubes that are enormously strong, tough and highly flexible, researchers developed the artificial muscles that can rotate 250 degrees per mm of muscle length.

This is more than a thousand times that of available artificial muscles composed of shape memory alloys and polymers, among others, a class of materials that can hold both positive and negative electric charges.

“These barely visible yarns composed of fibres 10,000 times thinner than a human hair, can move and rapidly rotate objects two thousand times their own weight,” says John Madden, Associate Professor in electrical engineering, University of British Columbia (UBC).

This new generation of low cost artificial muscles could be used to make tiny valves, positioners, pumps, stirrers and flagella for use in drug discovery, precision assembly and perhaps even to propel tiny objects inside the bloodstream, says Madden, according to a UBC statement.

The new material was devised at the University of Texas at Dallas and then tested as an artificial muscle in Madden's lab at the UBC. A chance discovery by collaborators from Wollongong University in Australia showed the enormous twist developed by the device.

(Agencies)