Several years ago, Mohsen Shahinpoor invented a nanomaterial called ionic polymeric metal composite (IPMC) that is capable of mimicing the function of muscles. When it’s touched, it produces a small charge through the redistribution of ions and alternatively will bend when a charge is passed through it. Pretty neat stuff.
Obviously, the correct course of action when presented with a material like this is to build a robotic venus fly trap with it.
So, here’s how it works: The smaller, inner leaves serve as IPMC detectors. When a fly touches them, they generate a small charge. This is picked up by the rest of the device that activates the larger IPMC mouth portion and closes the trap. Unfortunately, the trap currently has no means to digest the trapped insects. Perhaps they should talk to DARPA about that.
Of course, it’s not just about trapping flies. PhysOrg points out that the nanomaterial has medical applications, and could one day be used to replace lost muscles. For now, it’s far more humble, but so much more intimidating.
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