Scientists at the University of California, Riverside have created a substance that would allow robot muscle to heal and regenerate itself within 24 hours.
While this is an exciting new possibility in robotics, it opens doors for a variety of real world applications.
It could extend the lives of batteries, particularly those in electric cars, as well as improve medical biosensors.
This material could be used in consumer electronics, which would likely drive the cost down, as the batteries would no longer stop working after years of wear.
The material is soft and described as rubber-like.
Like the Wolverine comic book character, it beings to heal immediately after being cut.
The artificial muscle begins to heal without any external forces.
This new material can conduct electricity, which means it can potentially move like a muscle through an electric signal similar to the way electric signals from the brain send messages to human muscles.
“Creating a material with all these properties has been a puzzle for years.
We did that and now are just beginning to explore the applications.”
Christoph Keplinger, who helped with the current study, previously created another substance that did everything this new substance can do, except it lacked the ability to self-heal.
The trick was creating a material that would not be destroyed by electric signals, as most self-healing substances use non-covalent bonds that are degraded over time by electricity.
Wang was finally able to solve the problem by using ion-dipole interactions.
Forces between charged ions and polar molecules are still stable, even when interacting with electricity.
The most exciting use for this material would be to help robots self-heal without human interaction.
This would allow humans to use robots in a longer list of settings and would make them much more reliable than current robots that may need full repair after breaking down.
This material, however, is only in the beginning stages, but it is exciting to see where scientists will apply it.