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Artificial muscles let cadavers (and someday paralyzed humans) wink with the best of 'em

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The above contraption, aside from looking really uncomfortable, is the latest advance in electroactive polymer artificial muscle technology. Using soft acrylic or silicon layered with carbon grease, EPAMs contract like muscle tissue when current is applied -- making 'em just the ticket for use in UC Davis's Eyelid Sling. Billed as the "first-wave use of artificial muscle in any biological system," the device is currently letting cadavers (and, eventually paralyzed humans) blink -- an improvement over current solutions for the non-blinking, which include either transplanting a leg muscle into the face or suturing a small gold weight into the eyelid. Look for the technology to become available for patients within the next five years.

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