Acting like a muscle, nano-sized device lifts 165 times its own weight

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Very thin sheets of molybdenum disulfide (see a), a schematic and photos of working actuators. Credit: Muharrem Acerce/Rutgers University-New Brunswick

Imagine repeatedly lifting 165 times your weight without breaking a sweat—a feat normally reserved for heroes like Spider-Man.

Rutgers University-New Brunswick engineers have discovered a simple, economical way to make a nano-sized device that can match the friendly neighborhood Avenger, on a much smaller scale. Their creation weighs 1.6 milligrams (about as much as five poppy seeds) and can lift 265 milligrams (the weight of about 825 poppy seeds) hundreds of times in a row.

Its strength comes from a process of inserting and removing ions between very thin sheets of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), an inorganic crystalline mineral compound. It’s a new type of actuator – devices that work like muscles and convert electrical energy to mechanical energy.

The Rutgers discovery—elegantly called an “inverted-series-connected (ISC) biomorph actuation device”—is described in a study published online today in the journal Nature.

“We found that by applying a small amount of voltage, the device can lift something that’s far heavier than itself,” said Manish Chhowalla, professor and associate chair of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in the School of Engineering. “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.”

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This article and images were originally posted on [] August 30, 2017 at 01:03PM

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