Researcher Zhenan Bao of Stanford University in California reports that her team has developed a shape memory polymer. When heated, it allows robots to move their arms on their own. The results of the research are published by ACS Central Science.
When stretched or deformed, shape memory polymers return to their original shape when exposed to heat or light. Such materials are in demand in soft robotics and intelligent biomedical devices. The problem is that until now they have not been able to store enough energy.
Scientists at Stanford University have solved the problem by developing a new type of shape memory polymer. It stretches to a stable, highly elongated state, which allows it to release a large amount of energy when returning to its original shape.
During the tests, the polymer was stretched up to five times stronger and accumulated up to 17.9 J / g of energy. It also turned out that the stretched material, when heated, can use energy to lift a load that is 5,000 times its own weight.
The scientists also made an artificial muscle by attaching a pre-stretched polymer to the arm of a wooden dummy. When heated, the material shrank, forcing the mannequin to bend the arm at the elbow.
Bao and her team emphasize that the polymer is inexpensive at just $ 11 per pound (RUB 800 per 0.4 kg).