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Researchers Pump Up Artificial Muscles

March 29, 2009
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Engineers are exploring the field of artificial muscles to invent "smart" devices that can grab and move objects.

A close-up of the ionic contractile EAP material that Lenore Rasmussen, Ras Labs, LLC, presented. The red dot in the middle of the dish is the contracted EAP where a red dye was added to enhance the visibility of this gel material. Lenore is holding one electrode while the other is the black strip on the right of her hand.
Credit: Image courtesy of NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory

During a demonstration at the SPIE 2009 conference, a team from the University of Pisa, Italy showed off how they used folded film to create an actuator muscle.

Engineers from JPL and from around the world are exploring this new field to invent "smart" devices that can grab and move objects and even generate electricity.

Researchers also presented papers on how artificial muscles can be used in the near future, such as in a portable, low-cost PDA or MP3 player in Braille, in an automated implantable drug-delivery device, and in a robotic yet realistic jellyfish that could be used to take underwater photos and perform military reconnaissance.

Artificial muscles brought robotics to life at the 11th annual Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices conference in San Diego on Monday, March 9. The event showcased the latest research and demonstrations on electroactive polymers – lightweight plastic strips that bend or stretch when connected to electricity.

Yoseph Bar-Cohen, a senior research scientist who leads JPL's Advanced Technologies Group and its Nondestructive Evaluation and Advance Actuators Lab, chaired the conference. The event was part of the 16th annual SPIE Smart Structures and Materials & Nondestructive Evaluation & Health Monitoring international symposium. The symposium combines the latest research and applications of adaptive structures, smart sensors and non-destructive evaluation. It is sponsored by SPIE, an international society advancing an interdisciplinary approach to the science and application of light.

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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Researchers Pump Up Artificial Muscles." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 March 2009. <>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2009, March 29). Researchers Pump Up Artificial Muscles. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 29, 2015 from
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