1001 Uses For Dental Floss #20- Artificial Muscle From Floss


1.Today’s post about artificial muscle created from nylon floss may get a bit technical.
2. I haven’t actually tried any of this, although the researchers claim you can do this at home.

Please bear with me, though. This could change your life.

Recently there was a flurry of excitement (for some) about a new technique for making artificial muscle fibres out of nylon fishing line or sewing thread. Nowhere in the scientific article was there mention of dental floss, but it too (at least some types) is made of nylon. Nylon is a polymer, a substance made of multiple copies of the same subunit (monomers), all strung together, and in this case, if it matters to you, the sub-unit is an aliphatic polyamide, which I won’t even try to describe any further.

If these fibres are first twisted into a coil and then attached to a load, the coil stretches to become thinner and longer, as you might expect. If this nylon coil is then heated, it makes the coil tighten and shorten about 1.2% per degree of heat applied, which doesn’t sound like much, but a rise of 100° to 200° Celsius can produce the equivalent to the power of a jet engine! It can tighten up to 50% of its length when doing this, as compared to natural muscle, which can only shorten 20%, and so can lift 100 times the weight and generate 100 times the power of the same amount of human muscle.

You can see a video of this material in action here:

Attaching the coiled nylon to greenhouse windows can make them automatically open when it gets hot inside and close again when the air cools, and this without any electricity or other source of power. Possible uses could be in robots, prosthetic limbs or wearable exoskeletons that are smaller and lighter than current models which use conventional motors or pistons. So maybe you could make some of this in your bathroom from nylon dental floss and then use it to power an automatic toothbrush. Who knows what the possibilities might be? You would still need a source of heat, but maybe you could run hot water from your sink into the thing. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. So get thinking, people!

Just be sure to leave enough to floss your teeth, though, unless you can invent an artificial muscle-powered dental flosser to do it for you.