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Scientists make gel that is 'stronger than steel'

Could aerogel eventually be used in prosthetics?
Could aerogel eventually be used in prosthetics?

Scientists have developed a gel that they claim is stronger than steel, with the carbon nanotube structure of 'aerogel' making it light, stretchy and tough.

A report in the journal science suggest that the material would be ideal for use in robot 'muscles' with the material capable of dealing with far greater stresses than animal muscles.

Enthalpic rubber

The report states: "These solid-state–fabricated sheets are enthalpic rubbers having gas-like density and specific strength in one direction higher than those of steel plate.

"Actuation decreases nanotube aerogel density and can be permanently frozen for such device applications as transparent electrodes."

Which would suggest that you'd be an idiot to take on a robot with these muscles in an arm wrestling contest.

Currently the scientists are working on solving a problem with 'transverse' strength, but another of the authors, Dr John Madden, is confident that the problem will be solved, adding: "When forces are increased, the ribbon artificial muscles will become candidates for use in medical devices, robots, and perhaps even implants."

From Science via PA