Researchers at the University of California at Berkley (UCB) are developing a micro-sized robotic muscle that has proven to be 1,000 times stronger than an average human muscle.
UBC stated that vanadium dioxide (VD) is poised to join the pantheon of superstars in the materials world.
A team from UBC working with the Department of Energy “has demonstrated a micro-sized robotic torsional muscle/motor made from vanadium dioxide that for its size is a thousand times more powerful than a human muscle, able to catapult objects 50 times heavier than itself over a distance five times its length within 60 milliseconds – faster than the blink of an eye.”
Junqiao Wu, physicist at the Berkley Laboratory Materials Sciences Division (BLMSD) and the UBC explained: “We’ve created a micro-bimorph dual coil that functions as a powerful torsional muscle, driven thermally or electro-thermally by the phase transition of vanadium dioxide. Using a simple design and inorganic materials, we achieve superior performance in power density and speed over the motors and actuators now used in integrated micro-systems.”
Wu expounds on the necessity of VD as: “Miniaturizing rotary motors is important for integrated micro-systems and has been intensively pursued over the past decades. The power density of our micro-muscle in combination with its multi-functionality distinguishes it from all current macro- or micro-torsional actuators/motors.”
VD, when heated to 67 degrees Celsius, changes its compound from insulator to conductive as a metal, and then can demonstrate an impressive amount of strength within a measurable 60 milliseconds.
This phenomenon will allow the robotic muscle to lift and throw objects 50 times heavier than itself for a distance of 5 times its length.
In another endeavor, researchers at the UCB have suggested implanting mind-reading “neural dust” into human brains to facilitate connectivity of man to machine.
If this dust were sprinkled onto a human brain, it could form an “implantable neural interface system that remains viable for a lifetime.”
This dust would consist of particles no more than 100 micrometers across that would be millions of sensors capable of measuring electrical activity in neutrons within the brain.
According to the paper, these sensors could be attached to the “tips of fine wire arrays” that could be inserted directly into brain tissue.
This would enable a human brain – machine interface and create a mechanical “telepathy”.
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) explain that “each particle of neural dust consists of standard CMOS circuits and sensors that measure the electrical activity in neurons nearby. This is coupled to a piezoelectric material that converts ultra-high-frequency sound waves into electrical signals and vice versa.”
In essence this neural dust would work much like an RFID system; as well as store data from the neural-net outside of body which could be accessed at a later date.
Ultrasound techniques could be used to send and receive data. Researchers would have to conclude the power required to utilize electromagnetic waves without causing a level of heat conducted in the process that would damage brain tissue.
Biologically enhanced soldiers could display “mutant powers” that could give the US Armed Forces an advantage.
Referred to as biological modifications, or biomods, researchers into microbiology, physics and working to protect national security are collaborating with the Scitor Corporation to amplify the evolution of biomods.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) began using science to biologically modify troops under a program called Metabolic Dominance in 2002. The purpose of the MD program was “to develop novel strategies that exploit and control the mechanisms of energy production, metabolism, and utilization during short periods of deployment requiring unprecedented levels of physical demand.”
DARPA is also in the works for developing soldiers that will:
By eliminating empathy, the DoD hopes to “enhance” a soldier’s ability to “kill without care or remorse, shows no fear, can fight battle after battle without fatigue and generally behave more like a machine than a man.”
The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (DECE) at the University of Toronto (UoT) have revealed researchers created a cloak that is thin, scalable and adaptive to various objects and sizes to hide an object to radar detection.
So far, the object is still visible to the human eye; however this “practical” approach is being hailed as a step toward an actual invisibility cloak.
Researchers said: “We’ve demonstrated a different way of doing it. It’s very simple: instead of surrounding what you’re trying to cloak with a thick metamaterial shell, we surround it with one layer of tiny antennas, and this layer radiates back a field that cancels the reflections from the object.”
Indeed, the array of small antennas that expel the electromagnetic field surrounding the cloak cause the “invisibility” that renders the object un-seeable to radar systems.
Called an active electromagnetic cloak (AEMC), this device “uses an array of elementary sources to cancel the scattered fields created by an object. An active interior cloak does this by placing the sources along the boundary of the object.”
This technology “can be thought of as introducing a discontinuity in the field to cancel out the scattered field by the object.”
The process of cloaking was explained as: “Picture a mailbox sitting on the street. When light hits the mailbox and bounces back into your eyes, you see the mailbox. When radio waves hit the mailbox and bounce back to your radar detector, you detect the mailbox. [Professor George] Eleftheriades and [PhD student Michael] Selvanyagam’s system wraps the mailbox in a layer of tiny antennas that radiate a field away from the box, cancelling out any waves that would bounce back. In this way, the mailbox becomes undetectable to radar.”