New! Sign up for our free email newsletter.
Science News
from research organizations

Will strong and fast-switching artificial muscle be feasible?

August 12, 2022
Pohang University of Science & Technology (POSTECH)
A research team has developed a bifunctional polymer electrolyte with enhanced mechanical strength and ionic conductivity. The new technology can be applied to producing strong artificial muscles with fast switching speeds.

In the American action movie "Pacific Rim," giant robots called "Jaegers" fight against unknown monsters to save humankind. These robots are equipped with artificial muscles that mimic real living bodies and defeat monsters with power and speed. Recently research is being conducted on equipping real robots with artificial muscles like the ones shows in the movie. However, the powerful strength and high speed in artificial muscles cannot be actualized since the mechanical strength (force) and conductivity (speed) of polymer electrolyte -- the key materials driving the actuator -- have conflicting characteristics.

A POSTECH research team led by Professor Moon Jeong Park, Professor Chang Yun Son, and Research Professor Rui-Yang Wang from the Department of Chemistry has developed a new concept of polymer electrolyte with different functional groups located at a distance of 2Å. This polymer electrolyte is capable of both ionic and hydrogen bonding interactions, thereby opening the possibility of resolving these contradictions. The findings from this study have been recently published in the international academic journal Advanced Materials.

Artificial muscles are used to make robots move their limbs naturally as humans can. To drive these artificial muscles, an actuator that exhibits mechanical transformation under low voltage conditions is required. However, due to the nature of the polymer electrolyte used in the actuator, strength and speed could not be achieved simultaneously because increasing muscle strength slows down the switching speed and increasing speed reduces the strength.

To overcome the limitations presented so far, the research introduced the innovative concept of bifunctional polymer. By forming a one-dimensional ion channel several nanometers wide inside the polymer matrix, which is hard as glass, a superionic polymer electrolyte with both high ionic conductivity and mechanical strength was achieved.

The findings from this study have the potential to create innovations in soft robotics and wearable technology as they can be applied to development of an unprecedented artificial muscle that connects a portable battery (1.5 V), produces fast switching of several milliseconds (thousandths of a second), and great strength. Furthermore, these results are expected to be applied in next-generation all-solid-state electrochemical devices and highly stable lithium metal batteries.

This study was conducted with the support from the Samsung Science and Technology Foundation.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Pohang University of Science & Technology (POSTECH). Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Rui‐Yang Wang, Seungwon Jeong, Hyeonseong Ham, Jihoon Kim, Hojun Lee, Chang Yun Son, Moon Jeong Park. Superionic Bifunctional Polymer Electrolytes for Solid‐State Energy Storage and Conversion. Advanced Materials, 2022; 2203413 DOI: 10.1002/adma.202203413

Cite This Page:

Pohang University of Science & Technology (POSTECH). "Will strong and fast-switching artificial muscle be feasible?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 August 2022. <>.
Pohang University of Science & Technology (POSTECH). (2022, August 12). Will strong and fast-switching artificial muscle be feasible?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2024 from
Pohang University of Science & Technology (POSTECH). "Will strong and fast-switching artificial muscle be feasible?." ScienceDaily. (accessed April 21, 2024).

Explore More

from ScienceDaily