A printable active network actuator built from an engineered biomolecular motor

Journal: Nature Materials

Published: 2021-04-19

DOI: 10.1038/s41563-021-00969-6

Affiliations: 3

Authors: 5

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Research Highlight

A muscle-inspired system of molecular motors



A muscle-inspired molecular motor can shift millimetre-scale objects when activated by light.

Molecular motors are promising for use in many applications including robots. But it has been challenging to combine individual molecular motors so that they all act together in a manner similar to muscle fibres and generate forces large enough to make macroscale operations.

Now, five researchers, including two from Osaka University, have demonstrated a novel active network made from genetically modified kinesin — a motor protein — and microtubules, which mimic the units that contract in muscles. They used this bioinspired system to open and close millimetre-sized grippers.

A further advantage of this approach is that it can be fabricated by three-dimensional printing.

Systems based on this approach could find application in soft robotic systems.

Supported content

  1. Nature Materials 20, 1149–1155 (2021). doi: 10.1038/s41563-021-00969-6
Institutions Share
Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST), Japan 0.40
Osaka University, Japan 0.40
Gifu University, Japan 0.20