November 29, 2023

Flex Your Artificial Muscles: The New Low-Voltage Breakthrough

Researchers have actually developed a series of thin, elastic movies made from bottlebrush polymers that can serve as synthetic muscles, as reported in ACS Applied Materials & & Interfaces. These products can possibly be utilized in soft synthetic organs and robotic implants. Unlike present bottlebrush polymer films that require alarmingly high voltages above 4,000 V, these brand-new movies respond to considerably lower electrical charges, as low as 800 V. By manufacturing these polymers with polar side chains and producing thinner films, the researchers believe that the products can be even more improved to establish long lasting medical gadgets operating at more secure voltages.
Researchers have developed thin, elastic bottlebrush polymer films that can operate as synthetic muscles at significantly lower voltages than currently readily available products, possibly allowing their use in safer medical devices and synthetic organs.
Some polymers can do the exact same thing– acting like synthetic muscles– however only when promoted by dangerously high voltages. The materials represent an action towards artificial muscles that could at some point run safely in medical devices.
Electroactive elastomers, such as bottlebrush polymers, are appealing materials for this function since they start soft but stiffen when extended. Reducing the thickness of these films to less than 100 µm might lower the required voltages, however this hasnt been done effectively yet for bottlebrush polymers. Dorina Opris and associates desired to find a simple way to produce thinner movies.

Unlike existing bottlebrush polymer movies that require alarmingly high voltages above 4,000 V, these new films react to considerably lower electrical charges, as low as 800 V. By synthesizing these polymers with polar side chains and producing thinner movies, the scientists believe that the products can be further improved to establish long lasting medical devices running at more secure voltages.
Lowering the thickness of these movies to less than 100 µm might decrease the needed voltages, but this hasnt been done successfully yet for bottlebrush polymers. Dorina Opris and coworkers wanted to discover a simple method to produce thinner films.

The researchers synthesized a suite of bottlebrush polymers by responding norbornene-grafted polydimethylsiloxane macromonomers and cross-linking the items by ultraviolet light. A 60-µm-thick material was the most electroactive, expanding more than previously reported elastomers, with an operating voltage of 1,000 V. And a circular actuator constructed out of that product expanded and contracted more than 10,000 times prior to breaking down.
In another set of experiments, the researchers presented polar side chains to the polymers and produced materials that reacted to voltages as low as 800 V. However, they didnt broaden as much as the groups most electroactive film.
Based on the outcomes, the scientists say that, with some tweaks, the product might one day be utilized to develop long lasting implants and other medical devices that work at more secure voltages.
Recommendation: “On-Demand Cross-Linkable Bottlebrush Polymers for Voltage-Driven Artificial Muscles” 12 April 2023, ACS Applied Materials & & Interfaces.DOI: 10.1021/ acsami.2 c23026.
The authors acknowledge funding from the European Research Council under the European Unions Horizon 2020 research study and development program, the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology and the China Scholarship Council.