Osmotic muscle: from an original active material to an innovative actuator for robotic

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Robotic is a fast-developing research field offering many opportunities. Unfortunately, its development is limited as the actuation of modern robots is based on electrical motors which are not adapted. To overcome this limitation, research on innovative actuators – also called artificial muscle- is growing. In LAAS, our team developed competence on this thematic by studying artificial muscle based on different strategies (pneumatic muscle, electroactive polymer…)

I specially focus on the development a new type of actuator that we call Osmotic Muscle. The Osmotic Muscle use, as motor of actuation, gel which can reversibly swell when pH is changed. Such gels  cannot be used I bulk as they have very long swelling time (~1-10h) when used as this. To reduce this swelling time - and to have a dynamic adapted to robotic – the key idea of this project is to synthetize a new class of active material by giving the gels a porous structure. This porous structure allows rapid flow through the material enabling fast swelling below 1s. I am currently working on the synthesis of this active material and the development of artificial muscle based on this material.



V. Mansard