Using Neuron Activation as Way of Powering Artificial Muscle Fibers




Lombardo, Anthony

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Developing technologies and mechanisms that perform like our biological muscles have great potential of being useful for prosthetics research. Developing these technologies can be thought of as the easy part of the design, but the difficult part is having them work in synchronicity with all the accompanying muscle fibers within the body. This is important because biological muscles have high power to weight ratios, compliance, damping, and fast actuation. However, to date the robotic models are not able to perform up to the standards of biological muscles due to the complexity of the biological systems (Mirvakili et al., 2014). This is especially true in attempting to create prosthetics mechanisms that are as thin and small as the biological muscles. Novel technology, first developed by Disney, is the use of super coiled polymer actuators that perform extremely like biological muscle fibers when subjected to electrical current. These super coiled polymer actuators are super thin because they are constructed using nylon fishing line. The fishing line is coiled upon itself and then heat treated to set the fishing line in the coiled shape. In order to activate these super coiled polymer actuators two additional aspects, need to be added. First, the nylon fishing line needs to be coated in silver so that they can conduct current and furthermore be heated and cooled. When heated and cooled the fishing line coils will expand and contract, and in turn will act very similarly to biological muscle fibers (Yip & Niemeyer, 2015). Second, electrodes and computer coding need to be utilized so that the artificial muscle fibers are operating at the same time as the biological muscle. This technology has been proven in laboratory settings to be capable of lifting cars when the super coiled polymer actuators are coupled together. Combining these technologies can have a major impact on the prosthetics industry by providing an efficient and cost-effective method for creating powerful novel prosthetic devices (Fishing Line Makes for Superhuman Artificial Muscles—IEEE Spectrum, n.d.).



Neural Engineering, Artificial muscle