Nav: Home

'Terminator'-like liquid metal moves and stretches in 3D space (video)

March 20, 2019

In the blockbuster Terminator movie franchise, an evil robot morphs into different human forms and objects and oozes through narrow openings, thanks to its "liquid-metal" composition. Although current robots don't have these capabilities, the technology is getting closer with the development of new liquid metals that can be manipulated in 3D space with magnets. Reported in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, the materials could someday find applications in soft robotics. Watch them in action here.

Metals that are liquids at room temperature, such as gallium and certain alloys, have unique properties including high conductivity, low melting point and high deformability. These properties make them attractive for use in soft robots and flexible electronics. By adding magnetic particles, such as nickel or iron, researchers can produce liquid metals that they can manipulate with magnets. However, because of their high surface tension, most magnetic liquid metals can only move horizontally, and they must be immersed completely in liquid to avoid forming a paste. Liang Hu, Jing Liu and colleagues wanted to make a magnetic liquid metal that they could move and stretch both horizontally and vertically, without needing to put the material completely in a liquid.

To do so, the researchers first worked with the material submersed in liquid. They added iron particles to a droplet of a gallium, indium and tin alloy immersed in hydrochloric acid. A gallium oxide layer formed on the droplet surface, which lowered the surface tension of the liquid metal. When the team applied two magnets in opposite directions, they could stretch the droplet to almost four times its resting length. They could also manipulate the liquid metal to connect two immersed, horizontal electrodes and, by virtue of its conductive properties, light up an LED bulb. The liquid metal could even stretch vertically and then move horizontally to connect two electrodes -- the upper one exposed to air, and the lower one in the hydrochloric acid. This demonstrated that the material didn't have to be fully immersed in liquid. In this way, the magnetic liquid metal was reminiscent of an upright walking amphibian, the researchers say.
-end-
These authors acknowledge funding from the 111 Project and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

The abstract that accompanies this study is available here.

The American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, is a not-for-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS is a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. ACS does not conduct research, but publishes and publicizes peer-reviewed scientific studies. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact newsroom@acs.org.

Follow us on Twitter | Facebook

American Chemical Society

Related Surface Tension Articles:

Tension around autonomy increases family conflict at end of life
Conflict within families can be stressful and confusing, and it can lead to feelings of sadness.
How newly found tension sensor plays integral role in aligned chromosome partitioning
A Waseda University-led research found that oncogene SET/TAF1, which was found to be a proto-oncogene of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), contributes to proper chromosome partitioning as a tension sensor.
Our social judgments reveal a tension between morals and statistics
People make statistically-informed judgments about who is more likely to hold particular professions even though they criticize others for the same behavior, according to findings published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
Putting a face on a cell surface
With the help of machine learning, ETH researchers have been able to thoroughly describe the repertoire proteins on the cell surface for the first time.
Penetrating the soil's surface with radar
Ground penetrating radar measures the amount of moisture in soil quickly and easily.
More Surface Tension News and Surface Tension Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Erasing The Stigma
Many of us either cope with mental illness or know someone who does. But we still have a hard time talking about it. This hour, TED speakers explore ways to push past — and even erase — the stigma. Guests include musician and comedian Jordan Raskopoulos, neuroscientist and psychiatrist Thomas Insel, psychiatrist Dixon Chibanda, anxiety and depression researcher Olivia Remes, and entrepreneur Sangu Delle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...