Liquid Metal Technology Now Exists
You probably thought that those liquid metal T-1000 terminators could only get you by coming back from the future, like in the 1991 movie Terminator 2:
John Connor: So this other guy: he's a Terminator like you, right?
The Terminator: Not like me. A T-1000, advanced prototype.
John Connor: You mean more advanced than you are?
The Terminator: Yes. A mimetic poly-alloy.
John Connor: What the hell does that mean?
The Terminator: Liquid metal.
However, North Carolina State researchers have now developed a technique for controlling the surface tension of liquid metals by applying very low voltages. This new capability makes possible a whole new generation of reconfigurable electronic circuits, antennas and other technologies.
The new technique hinges on the fact that the oxide “skin” of the metal – which can be deposited or removed – acts as a surfactant, lowering the surface tension between the metal and the surrounding fluid.
(Liquid metal robots now possible?)
The researchers used a liquid metal alloy of gallium and indium. In base, the bare alloy has a remarkably high surface tension of about 500 millinewtons (mN)/meter, which causes the metal to bead up into a spherical blob.
"But we discovered that applying a small, positive charge – less than 1 volt – causes an electrochemical reaction that creates an oxide layer on the surface of the metal, dramatically lowering the surface tension from 500 mN/meter to around 2 mN/meter,” says Dr. Michael Dickey, an associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at NC State and senior author of a paper describing the work. “This change allows the liquid metal to spread out like a pancake, due to gravity.”
The researchers also showed that the change in surface tension is reversible. If researchers flip the polarity of the charge from positive to negative, the oxide is eliminated and high surface tension is restored. The surface tension can be tuned between these two extremes by varying the voltage in small steps.
“The resulting changes in surface tension are among the largest ever reported, which is remarkable considering it can be manipulated by less than one volt,” Dickey says. “We can use this technique to control the movement of liquid metals, allowing us to change the shape of antennas and complete or break circuits. It could also be used in microfluidic channels, MEMS, or photonic and optical devices. Many materials form surface oxides, so the work could extend beyond the liquid metals studied here.”
See also this earlier story on Shape-Changing Metal Antennas, as well as this article on MIT's Shape-Shifting Robot Materials.
Also, I'm sure you want to see more T-1000 Terminator moments from Terminator 2.
Via Researchers Control Surface Tension to Manipulate Liquid Metals.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/21/2014)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )
Related News Stories -
New Material Absorbs and Stores Solar Energy
'The light that is thus trapped can be released by making a small spark near the glass.' - L. Sprague de Camp, 1940.
3D Printed Damascus Steel Now Possible
'... lined with durite, that strange close-packed laboratory product.' - Robert Heinlein, 1939.
3D Printing Of Metallic Glass
Draw Circuits With Conductive Ink
'It's rewiring things... squeezing silver toothpaste in a ribbon along the printed circuitry.'
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Implantable Covid-Detecting Microchip Developed By DARPA
'Employees... were implanted with advanced microprocessors...'
SpaceX Requests Starlink For Starship
'... sweating, heat-blistered engineers at every interplanetary radiograph station on three planets.'
SF Writers Predicted John Deere Autonomous Tractors
'The huge plow... seemed to shake itself - and began to move back southward.'
DARPA Funding AI Fighter Pilots
'Cultured brains on a slab.'
StoryFile To Help William Shatner Become Landru
"I am Landru. I am he! All that he was, I am."
Telehealth Drones To The Rescue
'A shadow passed over him, and he looked up.'
Capture Asteroids In A Bag
'... just as a small boy catches a swift ball in his cap.'
Sony Pocket Air Conditioner Is Phil Dick's Idea!
'... he went to the hall closet to get his pith helmet and his mandatory cooling-unit.'
Is It Possible To GROW Planes And Vehicles?
'These are your rudimentary seed packages...'
Guard Dog Robot Security Check
'We still use people at the main gates, but here it's an automated sentry.'
Sheepskin Parchment Helped Medieval Lawyers Prevent Fraud
'The single sheet he held, and even the words and signatures upon it, were all integral parts of a single giant molecule...'
Space 'Hurricane' Has Been Seen
'... it was the biggest of the four hundred odd storms raging in the Fifty Suns region.'
PR2 Fencing Robot Perfect For Kwisatz Haderach-in-training
'Now, we'll work on your timing. Let me see you catch that thing sinister.'
Sole Morphing Astronaut Boots - A New Pair Of Moon Boots?
'It’s an ideal device for kangarooing along in lunar gravity.'
Mice Gestate In Mechanical Womb
'... in the Decanting Room, the newly-unbottled babes uttered their first yell of horror and amazement.'
3rd Century BC Gold Bee Is Just The Start
Bees knees, I order you to freeze!
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories