ERJ staff report (BC)
Cambridge, Massachusetts - Researchers led by George Whitesides, a chemist at Harvard University, have engineered a three-legged silicone device that is powered by combustion, reports Kathleen Sanderson of Nature News.
The soft robot has in each of its legs a channel with a soft valve at its end. Methane and oxygen are fed into the channels in the ratio of one part methane to two parts oxygen. The computer regulating the gases also controls a high-voltage cable connected to electrodes in each leg.
When the computer sparks the electrodes, the methane and oxygen explode, turning into carbon dioxide and water - and releasing a lot of energy. The downward force from the explosion makes the robot jump - higher than 30 centimetres so far, although the researchers say the range has been limited by the height of the testing chamber.
The results are published in the peer-reviewed journal Angewandte Chemie.
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