BioMimetic Muscle Strand

Based on the organic muscle cell system, an array of electromagnets are used to contract a muscle strand

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The pursuit of a muscle system for prosthetics and mechatronics comparable to the awesome power of biological muscles has been almost an obsession for many. In this attempt, an electromagnetically activated contracting muscle strand is the basis for a complex muscular system.
Small electromagnets oriented perpendicular the strand and parallel each other, separated by a low density polymer matrix, are activated to contract the muscle strand.
Several individual strands are laid parallel each other and activated concurrently as a muscle group by applying a voltage.

Thin ferrite cores (1 mm thick/diameter or less) wrapped with fine copper wire form the electromagnet portion of the muscle strand. The low density matrix into which these are set will most likely be non-conductive and silicone-based. Much work needs to be done to determine the best material, and form, for the compressible matrix. The polymer matrix is compressed during contraction and elastically returns to resting state.

Optimal power supply configuration is still under consideration, but the idea that an energized ferrite core will attract it's neighbor will be followed through either a DC or AC system.

Either system will be powered through conductive wire that runs through the center of the strand and the opposing polarity via a conductive lubricant or conductive sheath that is external to the strand. Contacts that extend through the low density matrix pick up power that travels through the lubrication/sheathing, while the wire (shaped like a loose spring) connects directly to the coils. Each energized coil creates a magnetic field that is attractive the next nearest coil in the array, thus when current is applied to the system, the muscle strand contracts.

[basic concept shown with dual-cores and permanent magnetic discs in a DC system]

Although the contractive force for each strand is not strong, many strands working together like muscle fibres will provide the force necessary to actuate joints of a prosthetic limb, an accessory extremity, or a exosuit of mucle augmentation.

  • The electromagnet muscle

    ken.do04/22/2017 at 05:07 0 comments

    For the proof of concept, thin ferrite (or equally suitable material) will make up the dual cores of the electromagnets. The lighter the core the better.

    A suitable thickness would be 1 mm or less, with a diameter of no more than 2 mm, but for the POC, scaling up may be the way to go.

    Wrapped around these cores would be copper magnet wire. How well a traditionally styled electromagnet will function at the desired small scale is TBD. There may be other options in materials and in forms, such as a PCB based electromagnet.

    Power will be supplied by a coiled conductor that passes through the center of the electromagnet and by a conductive lubricant in contact with the outer sheath of the strand. If the lubricant does not conduct well enough, impregnating the strand sheath material to make it conductive will work

    Optimal spacing for electromagnets TBD. Inclusion of permanent magnets is being considered as this would boost the power of the system at the cost of increasing weight and possible permanent magnetic fields interacting in undesirable ways.

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