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20 July 1998 Quantitative force comparison of polyacrylonitrile fibers with skeletal muscle
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The possibility of using certain polymer gels as artificial skeletal muscle was investigated due to its ability to shorten or contract when saturated in acidic or basic solutions, respectively. Polyacrylonitrile (PAN) fiber is such an example of a polymer gel. Mechanical performance characteristics of PAN fibers were studied and compared to voluntary muscle mechanical properties. The experimental methods used to determine the mechanical properties of the PAN fibers were modeled after A. V. Hill's classic experiments of the force-length and force-velocity properties of voluntary muscle. In addition, the force-molarity, length-molarity, and force-time characteristics were measured for the PAN fibers. These characteristics were quantitatively and qualitatively compared to voluntary muscle properties when relevant and used to determine the feasibility of implementing PAN fibers as artificial skeletal muscle in modeling movement across the human elbow joint. The results indicated qualitative similarities with the mechanical characteristics of voluntary muscle, especially force-velocity property. The force capabilities of the PAN fibers were at the lower end of voluntary muscle force generation. (i.e. 20 - 200 N/cm2) Activation- contraction time was also substantially larger than skeletal muscle. Based on these data, it was concluded that using PAN fibers as artificial muscles in modeling the human elbow joint is feasible only under certain conditions. Additional characterization studies are needed to determine if individual PAN fibers can generate higher forces using a different experimental protocol or a different architectural arrangement of the fibers.
© (1998) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Roger V. Gonzalez and Christopher Y. Lee "Quantitative force comparison of polyacrylonitrile fibers with skeletal muscle", Proc. SPIE 3324, Smart Structures and Materials 1998: Smart Materials Technologies, (20 July 1998);

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