Material Polymer gels
Polymer gels consist of a cross-linked polymer network inflated with a solvent such as water. They have the ability to reversibly swell or shrink (up to 1000 times in volume) due to small changes in their environment (pH, temperature, electric field).

Micro sized gel fibres contract in milliseconds, while thick polymers layers require minutes to react (up to 2 hours or even days). They have high strength and can deliver sizeable stress (approximately equal to that of human muscles).

The most common are polyvinylalcohol (PVA), polyacrylicacid (PAA) and polyacrylonitrile (PAN). Many potential applications (e.g. artificial muscles, robot actuators, adsorbers of toxic chamicals), but presently, few of them have a commercial diffusion.
Category Responsive (smart) materials, Moving materials
Similar materials Conducting polymers
Dielectric elastomers
References Intelligent gels
MIT, Physics Department
MIT, Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
UNM, Artificial Muscles Research Institute
Environmen- tal notes Use: The majority are biocompatible.
Additional Info Response time is still not fast enough for artificial muscles.
Lifetime of a gel actuator is very short.
Their structure gradually degrades and they become unusable.
Commercial reality is still far away.
Photo Thomas Nissen (Computer graphics)
Copyright © 1996-2003 Torben Lenau
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