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MIT's mechanical actuators bend and 'breathe' as they heat up

They expand and contract with the flow of oxygen ions, protecting them from super hot environments.
David Lumb, @OutOnALumb
May 8, 2017
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MIT News

Researchers from MIT and other institutions have developed a new type of actuator -- a mechanical component relying on movement -- that works in extremely hot environments. Their newly developed material could be used in, say, maintenance robots working in nuclear reactors. To achieve this temperature pliability, the scientists' new system uses oxide systems like those used in rechargeable batteries: As ions move in and out, they expand and contract. Similarly, the researchers' material bends with the flow of oxygen in and out.

Their findings, which will appear in this week's issue of Nature Materials, reveal that their material can endure temperatures up to 500 degrees Celsius. This would be enough for mechanical actuators to endure the brutally high heat within jet or spacecraft engines, which is currently too extreme for components that rely on electrical stimulation to expand and contract.

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