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Biotech Upgrades Science

Self-Healing Artificial Muscles 90 90

Valor1016 writes "Researchers in California have developed an artificial muscle that heals itself and generates electricity. 'We've made an artificial muscle that, when you apply electricity to it, it expands, more than 200 percent, the motion and energy is a lot like human muscles,' said Qibing Pei, a scientist at UCLA and study author. The researchers used flexible carbon nanotubes as electrodes. If an area of the carbon nanotube fails, the region around it seals itself by becoming non-conductive and prevents the damage from spreading to other areas. This material also conserves about 70% of the energy you put into it. As the material contracts after an expansion the rearranging of the carbon nanotubes generates a small electric current that can be captured and used to power another expansion or stored in a battery. The research appeared in the January issue of Advanced Materials."
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Self-Healing Artificial Muscles

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  • Self healing? (Score:5, Informative)

    by ruin20 (1242396) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @05:15PM (#22812002)
    The system isn't so much self healing as failure resistant. The fact that broken nanotubes seal themselves in order to prevent damage from spreading doesn't mean that they are self healing, just that they don't propagate failure. They don't regain strength over time after being damaged. Also the fact that they recover 70% of energy used doesn't make them energy efficient, energy efficient would be to find out that the energy used to exert a force over a distance or the power required to get the actuator to push a load at a velocity was nearly equivalent to the electrical input. Plus even if it was really efficient you still need to supply the power in the first place, so there's a high overhead. Even at 100% efficiency for the non-recoverable energy, you'd be supplying 333% of what you got out in physical labor from the device.
  • by clonan (64380) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @05:30PM (#22812202)
    Nah, Grey Goo is thermodynamically impossible...

    To get nano scale replicators you would get an extremly complex molecule/molecule system and at the same time to manipulate it on an atom scale you would need very high energy concentrations.

    One thing we know from biochem is that very large molecules (like DNA, proteins etc) don't last long in high energy environments.

    Nanotech replicators will requier very controlled environments and very high energy working medium to function. Outside of thoes controlled conditions they would "starve" and fall apart.
  • Re:Self healing? (Score:5, Informative)

    by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Thursday March 20, 2008 @06:17PM (#22812684) Journal
    Well calories convert to joules, so say a 1500-calorie (kcal, because food calories are kilocalories for whatever reason) diet converts to (1,500,000 * 4.18) = 6,270,000 joules, which converts to about 2 kilowatt hours...So enough juice to run your microwave for a couple of hours, or a 100watt bulb for 20 hours.

    Not too shabby for the amount of energy in a "Double Whopper" meal (with cheese) from Burger King.

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