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Using thin sheets of carbon nanotubes, researchers at UT Dallas have developed artificial muscles that are lighter than air yet stiffer than steel and flexible as a rubber band, expanding or contracting when electricity is applied. UTD Nanotech Institute director Ray Baughman, who invented his first artificial muscles some 25 years ago, says the new models have the advantage of operating effectively over a huge temperature range, making it possible to use them in industry and space travel (because their predecessors slowed down dramatically at low temperatures, they could only be employed commercially to perform functions such as controlling the focus of cameras).

In Thinking Small, Dr. Baughman and his UTD colleagues display their artificial muscles, and explain how such nanotechnology can be used in biomedicine and in building prosthetic devices, as well as in the creation of electricity.