Share this on :

Fast and smooth movements from artificial hands becomes a reality, thanks to smart-wire Nitinol

cjmagowan  —  4 years ago ( Mar 26, 2015 )    |    Science


Robotics paired with medicine make look like a scene from a sci-fi movie but modern technology has converge the fields of sciences to help us move and modernized our medical approach. In the field of orthopedics for example. doctors and researchers are constantly look for new ways to make prosthesis more natural and functional.

With the introduction of robotics into the field of medicine, doctors were able to provide a mechanical alternative from basic prosthetics which comes with basic animated functions with the aid of motors and pneumatics that allows the patient to perform things that they could do just like they had before. Though this advancement in modern science is seen as a major achievement in modern medicine but the movements produce by such equipment is more like robotic than human. But a team of researchers from Saarland University in Germany may have an answer to that small problem.

Using Nitinol (a Nickel Titatium) wires bundled as muscles, the team were able to replicate a fluid motion similar to a natural human hand movements. Without the the help of motors and hydraulic components, the new prosthesis made with Nitinol were able to produce movements and actions by either heating or cooling down the wires to produce a contraction. These contractions plays a similar rule as its muscle counterparts therefore resulting to a fluid and rhythmical movements.  The metal wires are also smart enough to remember there original form before they are heated to contract. Depending on the amount of heat applied the Nitinol material could deform as desired and once done, cooling them down would turn back to in original state.

The technology behind Nitinol isn’t new to medicine and in fact it has been used in coronary stents because of its shape-memory capacities. But the application of such material in prosthesis has just been opened which is promising during testing. Researchers such as Filomina Simone has been dealing with Nitinol as part of her doctoral research and sees manageable results and added that with Nitinol, researchers were able to produce fast and smooth artificial finger movements which does not involve any mechanical schematics.