Scientists have only recently begun working with carbon nanotubes, but the possibilities they can bring is already looking very promising. These coil-structured yarns behave in much a way as human muscles contract, which means they can be used to enhance artificial muscles.

An international team of researchers collaborated to publish their research in Science. These artificial muscles are a lot like elephant trunks and squid tentacles, they say. The nanotube yarns are basically straws of carbon linked together, forming physical properties said to be 100 times stronger than steel. The tubes are twisted to form the coiled structure and then dipped in an electrolyte solution.

However, besides investigating how this can be further applied, one challenge is seeing how they scale down this model and build smaller versions in a device. The core of the problem is that reducing the electronic motors automatically reduces its performance, as well.

The carbon nanotubes are capable of spinning up to 600 revolutions per minute, so when used it could twist or contract quickly and easily. In the future, this technology could be used to develop nanobots or even cancer therapies.