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07/15/2019 HYU News > Academics


Professor Kim Sun-jeong, Developed Artificial Muscle 40 Times Stronger Than Human Muscle

Published in 「Science」, the world’s most authoritative magazine on the 12th


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▲Professor Kim Sun-jeong

A research team led by Professor Kim Sun-jeong of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Hanyang University, in collaboration with a multinational research team that includes Professor Ray Baughman of the University of Texas at Dallas in the U.S., developed ‘sheath-run artificial muscles (STAMs)’ that is 40 times stronger than human muscle.

With this study, the newly developed artificial muscle is relatively cheap in materials and will be available commercially in the future. The outcome of this research has been published in 「Science」, the world’s most authoritative magazine on the 12th.

The multinational research team that Kim is a member of has been researching carbon nanotube yarn (CNT)-based artificial muscle over the past 15 years. However, due to the high price of carbon nanotube yarns, its commercial usage was difficult.

In contrast, the sheath-run artificial muscles developed in this research possess a performance ability 9 times higher than that of the existing artificial muscles, overcoming the financial problem that existing artificial muscle faced at the same time. Breaking away from the carbon nanotube yarns that were unsuitable for commercial use due to its high price, sheath-run artificial muscles demonstrate a high likelihood for commercial usage in the future as it utilizes nylon and silk, of which, prices are relatively low. For example, economic artificial muscles can be produced with inexpensive yarns, and artificial muscles made with yarns suitable for intelligent structures such as a wearable system can be also produced.

Kim’s team, the co-author of the paper, also contributed to the development of artificial muscle that runs as glucose levels increase, opening the possibility of artificial muscle’s application in the bio sector. In this research, Kim’s team developed hydrogel, which reacts to glucose, and applied it to the sheath-run artificial muscles. Synthetic hydrogel, which was used as skin, was combined with surrounding glucose to change its volume, which was converted into a driving force of artificial muscle to react to the glucose concentration. This sheath-run artificial muscles is applicable to drug release systems based on blood sugar levels in the body.

This research was funded by the Leader Research Support Project (Center for Self-Powered Actuation) and executed by the Ministry of Science and ICT’s National Research Foundation of Korea.


▲An explanation of the illustration: the production of sheath-run artificial muscles

- (Pictured on the left) Schematic lateral and cross-sectional views of a twisted CNT yarn and an SRAM, made by coating a twisted CNT yarn with a polymer sheath.

- (Pictured on the right) An SRAM made by self-coiling a sheath-coated twisted yarn.


▲Cover of international journal 「Science」 that published the thesis on artificial muscle on the 12th.

(Photo courtesy of Ken Richardson) 

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