In recent years, scientists have achieved great success in prosthetics – one of the most promising areas in medicine has been the replacement of damaged muscles with artificial ones. But, unlike a mechanized limb with an external battery, synthetic muscle fiber needs a special type of power. A team of researchers from Linköping University in Sweden has developed an original method of "revitalizing" polymer fabrics with the help of the energy of the human body.
Made from a special polymer, “muscles” can receive energy for contractions from glucose and oxygen — on the same principle as real ones. Thin plates of artificial fabric consist of two layers of polymer, between which there is a thin membrane containing a special enzyme. When interacting with glucose and oxygen dissolved in water, the surface of a synthetic muscle shrinks and relaxes like a “living original.”
“These enzymes use glucose and oxygen just as they do in the body to produce the electrons needed to propel an artificial muscle made from an electroactive polymer. The voltage source is not required: it is enough just to immerse the drive in a solution of glucose in water, ”said Edwin Yager, senior teacher of the university department.
Polypyrrole , on the basis of which artificial muscles are “built”, is well studied and is actively used in electronics. At the next stage of research, scientists intend to find out the ability to control contractions of artificial muscles and how many cycles of contraction they can withstand. The main goal of scientific work is the most accurate imitation of living tissue. In the future, the technology will help move to other nutrient media to create autonomous robots that can, for example, conduct environmental monitoring in lakes. Such devices will be able to receive energy directly from the environment.