A team made artificial muscles using only natural proteins. This can be controlled with temperature and pH changes. The study was published in the “Advanced Intelligent Systems Journal”.
Dr Stefan Schiller, from the University of Freiburg’s livMatS cluster of excellence, said that “our artificial muscle is still a prototype.” “However, the material’s high biocompatibility and ability to be adjusted to match specific tissues could pave the way towards future applications in reconstructive medicine or prosthetics,” Schiller said.
Scientists have used natural proteins to develop artificial muscles systems in the past. They have also created tiny molecular machines from these proteins or made polymers. It is not yet possible to create synthetic muscle materials that are completely bio-based and can move independently with chemical energy. The Freiburg team used elastin as a base for their material. This natural fibrous protein is also found in humans. It gives skin and blood vessels elasticity. The researchers created two elastin-like proteins based on the model of this protein. One of these proteins can respond to temperature changes and fluctuations in pH.
The bilayered material was formed when scientists combined the two proteins through photochemical cross-linking. This allows you to shape the material and control its movement. Researchers were able to induce rhythmic contractions using a chemical energy source, in this instance sodium sulphite. The material’s non-equilibrium state allowed for the conversion of added energy into mechanical power in an oscillating reaction that changes the pH in cycles.
Researchers were able to cause the material to contract in a cyclical way. They were also capable of switching the contractions on/off with temperature changes. The material started to make rhythmic movements at around 20°C. It was possible to program certain states to the material and to reset them again using another stimulus. Scientists have now created a simple system that allows for learning and forgetting to be implemented at the material level. Schiller explained that the material is made from naturally occurring protein elastin, and was produced by us using biotechnological methods. This gives it a high level of sustainability that is also useful for technical applications.
“In the future the material could also be developed further to respond and consume other energy sources like malate derived biomass.” he said. (ANI)
(This story is not edited by Devdiscourse staff.