Artificial muscles for wearable assistance and rehabilitation

  • Tian-yun Dong
  • Xiang-liang Zhang
  • Tao LiuEmail author


Traditional exoskeletons have made considerable contributions to people in terms of providing wearable assistance and rehabilitation. However, exoskeletons still have some disadvantages, such as being heavy, bulky, stiff, noisy, and having a fixed center of rotation that can be a burden on elders and patients with weakened muscles. Conversely, artificial muscles based on soft, smart materials possess the attributes of being lightweight, compact, highly flexible, and have mute actuation, for which they are considered to be the most similar to natural muscles. Among these materials, dielectric elastomer (DE) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) gel exhibit considerable actuation strain, high actuation stress, high response speed, and long life span, which give them great potential for application in wearable assistance and rehabilitation. Unfortunately, there is very little research on the application of these two materials in these fields. In this review, we first introduce the working principles of the DE and PVC gel separately. Next, we summarize the DE materials and the preparation of PVC gel. Then, we review the electrodes and self-sensing systems of the two materials. Lastly, we present the initial applications of these two materials for wearable assistance and rehabilitation.

Key words

Artificial muscle Smart material Dielectric elastomers (DE) Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) gel Actuator Wearable assistance Rehabilitation 

CLC number

TB332 TP271 


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Copyright information

© Editorial Office of Journal of Zhejiang University Science and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Fluid Power and Mechatronic Systems, School of Mechanical EngineeringZhejiang UniversityHangzhouChina
  2. 2.Yunnan Key Laboratory of ComputerKunming University of Science and TechnologyKunmingChina

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