Science 2 min read

Scientists Develop a Terminator-like Stretchable Liquid Metal

This new liquid metal could fundamentally change how we create electronics. ¦ Graphic Compressor / Shutterstock

This new liquid metal could fundamentally change how we create electronics. ¦ Graphic Compressor / Shutterstock

Researchers from Beihang University, Tsinghua University, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, China have created a magnetic liquid metal droplet that can be molded and stretched like in the sci-fi movie, The Terminator.

The metal was formed by supplementing experimental liquid metals like gallium and other alloys with nickel or iron. The team reported that by doing so, the material became flexible and moldable using magnets.

In their paper, the researchers wrote:

“This MLMD is fabricated based on a multimaterial system including liquid metals, iron particles, and electrolytes. Such remarkable stretching capacity is reversible, long-lasting, and can be repeated for multiple times.”

The team encountered two problems while developing the metal. First, the material only stretches horizontally because of high surface tension which limits its mobility. Second, the substance should be submerged in water before it could be manipulated, turning into a paste when removed from the water.

However, by adding nickel or iron to gallium together with a tin alloy submerged in hydrochloric acid, the team was able to reduce the surface tension. Aside from that, the liquid metal also showed conductivity when tested using two electrodes and a LED bulb.

By solving the two issues, the magnetic liquid metal droplet can finally be stretched in large scales not just horizontally, but vertically as well. The team explained:

“All the behaviors can be precisely, conveniently, and contactlessly controlled by the magnetic field provided by permanent magnets. With all the appealing properties, this MLMD presents a fundamental and promising platform for the liquid metals to further develop the multi-freedom actuation in free space and eventually lead to the dynamically reconfigurable intelligent and biomimetic soft robots in the future.”

Read More: Researchers Develop New, Simpler Form Of Metal 3D Printer

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Comments (2)
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  1. Profile Image
    Anthony Crosier April 10 at 10:58 am GMT

    Sci-fi metal is exceptional in hydrochloric acid. I would like to know what will they do to neutralize the effect of this poisonous liquid in stretchable metal?

  2. Profile Image
    Claire Smith March 23 at 6:07 am GMT

    We’re learning a heck of a lot 🙂

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