Pedro B. C. Leal, Marcela Cabral-Seanez, Vikram B. Baliga, Douglas L. Altshuler and Darren J. Hartl. 2021. Phase transformation-driven artificial muscle mimics the multifunctionality of avian wing muscle. Journal of the Royal Society Interface
Skeletal muscle provides a compact solution for performing multiple tasks under diverse operational conditions, a capability lacking in many current engineered systems. Here, we evaluate if shape memory alloy (SMA) components can serve as artificial muscles with tunable mechanical performance. We experimentally impose cyclic stimuli, electric and mechanical, to an SMA wire and demonstrate that this material can mimic the response of the avian humerotriceps, a skeletal muscle that acts in the dynamic control of wing shapes. We next numerically evaluate the feasibility of using SMA springs as artificial leg muscles for a bipedal walking robot. Altering the phase offset between mechanical and electrical stimuli was sufficient for both synthetic and natural muscle to shift between actuation, braking and spring-like behaviour.