Implanting an Artificial Skeletal Muscle into the Human Body: Towards an Ionic-Strength based Prototype

B. Tondu, N. Bardou, and S. Mathé (France)


Artificial muscle, pH-muscle, Active muscular implant.


To implant an active artificial muscle inside the human body is still a dream due to the extreme difficulty of replicating natural muscular tissue. Present-day development of chemo-mechanical artificial muscles for robots could help to specify first prototypes of such active implants. Based on recent experiments made by the present authors on a “pH-muscle” functioning in an admissible physiologically pH-range, a global analysis is developed for a future “artificial muscle implant” both safe and efficient. A scheme of a possible future artificial muscle implant is shown associating our current prototype, whose skeletal muscle-like behaviour is provided by McKibben artificial muscle technology, with the use of a bio-compatible micro-organism, to be specified, which would be able to generate the necessary ionic-strength change to the swelling-deswelling of the ion-sensitive agent placed inside the McKibben structure. Preliminary experimental results are reported of a 10 cm long artificial muscle and 8 mm external diameter filled with a RCOOH commercial Amberlite resin generating a maximum force of 80 N with buffer solutions of pH between 4.5 and 8.4 in some tens of minutes with the hope of obtaining quicker responses by use of more specific ion-sensitive polymers.

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