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Self-healing artificial muscle can charge an iPhone

Researchers at UCLA have developed an energy-generating muscle made of carbon nanotubes.

An artificial muscle that can heal itself and recharge an iPod at the same time? Sounds ludicrous, but researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles have developed an electricity-generating muscle that might one day be to used to create walking robots or advanced prosthetics, according to Discovery News.

Qibing Pei, a scientist at UCLA and author of the research that appeared in the January edition of Advanced Materials, said his team developed a lifelike artificial muscle by using carbon nanotubes as electrodes. Unlike other artificial muscles made with metal-based films, this muscle can expand more than 200 percent when applied with electricity, without undergoing failure. When under pressure, the carbon nanotubes have a way of shutting down and preventing the spread of failure to other areas of the muscle so it can continue to work, according to the scientists.

The muscle is also energy-efficient, conserving 70 percent of the energy put into it, the scientists said. That electrical current can be used to power other electronics like an iPhone, or can even be used to generate ocean waves. Scientists in Japan charge batteries from ocean waves using the same idea, according to Discovery.