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Wolverine Inspired Material: Transparent, Self-Healing, Power Ups Artificial Muscles

First Posted: Dec 30, 2016 02:57 AM EST
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One of the amazing ability of new materials is self-healing. New materials are composed of a wide range of gels and polymers which are used to electronic materials, paints, spaceship hulls. Healing abilities is often associated to some of the most famous superheroes that people watched in movies.

Now, this ability could be used to build robots! According to UCR Today, a team of scientists has developed a stretchy and transparent material which cannot only repair itself but also could act as an ionic conductor. This ability could lead to self-healing of artificial muscles.

The new project created by the scientists and researchers was inspired by Wolverine, a Marvel character who possesses healing powers. Christoph Keplinger is one of the authors of the current paper.

The team has developed a rubbery and flexible loudspeaker which is powered by the iconic conductors. The said materials are transparent and could stretch several times of their original length with no floss of function.

"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," Chao Wang, another author of the paper said.

Self-healing ability is a new trick for the ionic conductor to perform. The electrochemical reactions which can be seen in conduction would weaken the bonds of the molecules of a self-healing polymer. According to the researchers, the material is the first ionic conductor that is transparent, stretchable and at the same time self-healing.

According to Beckman Institute, although researchers and scientists have been developing regenerative synthetic gels and polymer for years, the said material is unique for having many properties.

The said materials could be used to power artificial muscles in soft robots. These robots can soon be used by humans in the household and do other chores.

 "Imagine a new class of robots that are based on soft, elastic materials, being powered by stretchable electronic circuits and thus much more closely resemble the elegant design of biology," Christoph Keplinger, a Boulder professor and researcher on the project said.

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