Electrospun hierarchical artificial muscle for soft robotics applications

Gotti, Carlo (2022) Electrospun hierarchical artificial muscle for soft robotics applications, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Meccanica e scienze avanzate dell'ingegneria, 34 Ciclo.
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Nowadays, one of the most ambitious challenges in soft robotics is the development of actuators capable to achieve performance comparable to skeletal muscles. Scientists have been working for decades, inspired by Nature, to mimic both their complex structure and their perfectly balanced features in terms of linear contraction, force-to-weight ratio, scalability and flexibility. The present Thesis, contextualized within the FET open Horizon 2020 project MAGNIFY, aims to develop a new family of innovative flexible actuators in the field of soft-robotics. For the realization of this actuator, a biomimetic approach has been chosen, drawing inspiration from skeletal muscle. Their hierarchical fibrous structure was mimicked employing the electrospinning technique, while the contraction of sarcomeres was designed employing chains of molecular machines, supramolecular systems capable of performing movements useful to execute specific tasks. The first part deals with the design and production of the basic unit of the artificial muscle, the artificial myofibril, consisting in a novel electrospun core-shell nanofiber, with elastomeric shell and electrically conductive core, coupled with a conductive coating, for the realization of which numerous strategies have been investigated. The second part deals instead with the integration of molecular machines (provided by the project partners) inside these artificial myofibrils, preceded by the study of several model molecules, aimed at simulating the presence of these molecular machines during the initial phases of the project. The last part concerns the realization of an electrospun multiscale hierarchical structure, aimed at reproducing the entire muscle morphology and fibrous organization. These research will be joined together in the near future like the pieces of a puzzle, recreating the artificial actuator most similar to biological muscle ever made, composed of millions of artificial myofibrils, electrically activated in which the nano-scale movement of molecular machines will be incrementally amplified to the macro-scale contraction of the artificial muscle.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Gotti, Carlo
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
artificial muscle, electrospinning, soft robotics, nanofiber, molecular machine, core shell nanofiber
Data di discussione
15 Giugno 2022

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