Unbelievably enough, researchers in California have developed an artificial muscle that can expand more than 200% when electricity is applied to it. By using carbon nanotubes, they have added a level of durability that can not be matched by current artificial muscle materials. If an area of the nanotube fails, the region around it becomes non conductive which effectively prevents the damage from spreading.
Plus, these nanotubes generate small amounts of additional electricity after expansion that can be utilized in several ways—including storage in a battery. The muscles also conserve around 70% of the electricity put into it, making them energy efficient. Sure you could use this technology to build better robots and prosthetics—but I can think of a few other parties that might be interested. [Discovery News]