Aug. 30 (UPI) -- Researchers at Rutgers University have developed a tiny machine with superhuman strength. The device can lift 165 times its own weight.
The miniature machine weighs just 1.6 milligrams, but can lift 265 milligrams several hundred times in a row. It's power is derived from the loading and unloading of ions between super thin sheets of molybdenum disulfide.
By converting chemical energy into mechanical energy, the device replicates the actuator power of a muscle.
"We found that by applying a small amount of voltage, the device can lift something that's far heavier than itself," Manish Chhowalla, a professor of material science and engineering at Rutgers, said in a news release. "This is an important finding in the field of electrochemical actuators. The simple restacking of atomically thin sheets of metallic MoS2 leads to actuators that can withstand stresses and strains comparable to or greater than other actuator materials."
The small but powerful actuator could be incorporated into a wide variety of electromechanical technologies, from robots to airplane wings.
Molybdenum disulfide, or MoS2, is an inorganic crystalline mineral compound with a molecular structure similar to graphene. While atoms within a single layer are strongly bonded, the bond between layers is weak, allowing them to be easily separated.
MoS2 nanolayers can be stacked in a solution and dehydrated to form the electrode-like device. The nanolayers expand and contract as ions are added and removed, creating a muscle-like effect and exerting a surface force.
Researchers detailed the technology this week in the journal Nature.
"The next step is to scale up and try to make actuators that can move bigger things," Chhowalla said.