Soft Robotics refers to constructing robots with materials similar to those found in real-life organisms, drawing heavily from the way they move and adapt to their environment. This allows for increased flexibility and adaptability as well as making them safer for when working around humans. Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) researchers, led by Professor Il-Kwon Oh, have developed an artificial muscle for use in soft robotics.
This ultrathin artificial muscle is based on a two-dimensional, highly electrically-conductive material called “MXene,” which was ionically crosslinked to bond with polymer for flexibility. Low voltage causes strips of this composite material to bend quickly, all the while staying intact and maintaining their rigidity and conductivity after over five-hours of movement.
What could this artificial muscle be used for? The researchers have so far applied it to a narcissus-flower-like brooch that opens its petals in response to an electrical current. That’s not all, they even tested it on robotic butterflies, enabling them to move their wings up and down as well as dance around.