Review of Artificial Muscle Based on Contractile Polymers
An artificial muscle with strength and speed equal to that of a human muscle may soon be possible. Polymer gels exhibit abrubt volume changes in response to variations in their external conditions -- shrinking or swelling up to 1000 times their original volume. Through the conversion of chemical or electrical energy into mechanical work, a number of devices have already been constructed which produce forces up to 100N/cm2 and contraction rates on the order of a second. Through the promise of an artificial muscle is real, many fundamental physical and engineering questions remain before the extent or limit of these devices is known.