In recent years, scientists have achieved great success in prosthetics — one of the promising areas in medicine was the replacement of damaged muscles with artificial ones. But, unlike a mechanized limb with an external battery, synthetic muscle fiber needs a special type of nutrition. A team of researchers from the University of Linköping in Sweden has developed an original method of "revival" of polymer tissues using the energy of the human body.
Made from a special polymer, "muscles" can receive energy for contractions from glucose and oxygen — on the same principle as the real ones. Thin plates of artificial tissue consist of two layers of polymer, between which is a thin membrane containing a special enzyme. When interacting with glucose and dissolved oxygen in water, the surface of the synthetic muscle contracts and relaxes like a "living original".
"These enzymes use glucose and oxygen in the same way as in the body to produce the electrons needed to drive an artificial muscle made from an electroactive polymer. The voltage source is not required: simply immerse the drive in a solution of glucose in water," said Edwin Jaeger, senior lecturer at the University.
Polypyrrol, on the basis of which artificial muscles are "built", is well studied and actively used in electronics. At the next stage of research, scientists intend to find out the possibility of controlling the contractions of artificial muscles and how many cycles of contraction they are able to withstand. The main purpose of scientific work is the most accurate imitation of living tissue. In the future, the technology will help to switch to other nutrient media to create Autonomous robots capable, for example, to conduct environmental monitoring in lakes. Such devices will be able to receive energy directly from the environment.