Torsional carbon nanotube artificial muscles
Rotary motors of conventional design can be rather complex and are therefore difficult to miniaturize; previous carbon nanotube artificial muscles provide contraction and bending, but not rotation. We show that an electrolyte-filled twist-spun carbon nanotube yarn, much thinner than a human hair, functions as a torsional artificial muscle in a simple three-electrode electrochemical system, providing a reversible 15,000deg rotation and 590 revolutions per minute. A hydrostatic actuation mechanism, as seen in muscular hydrostats in nature, explains the simultaneous occurrence of lengthwise contraction and torsional rotation during the yarn volume increase caused by electrochemical double-layer charge injection. The use of a torsional yarn muscle as a mixer for a fluidic chip is demonstrated.