Artificial Muscles No Longer at Arms Length. (Medicine)

Article excerpt

Monash University researchers in Melbourne, Australia, in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Wollongong, have developed salt-based liquids that improve the performance of artificial muscles by thousands of times.

The discovery has aided the development of artificial muscles to such an extent that simple prosthetic devices containing artificial muscles could be available within three years, says Professor Doug MacFarlane, from Monash University's chemistry department.

MacFarlane and Dr Maria Forsyth, a reader in the school of physics and materials engineering, have spent five years developing 'ionic liquids' - salts that are liquid at room temperature - that have revolutionised the performance of artificial muscles.

Artificial muscles that mimic the expansion and contraction of natural muscle have been under development in laboratories for 20 years and operate in the same way as a battery with electrodes and an electrolyte. But the limited life-span of these muscles has meant they can't be used in humans. …