Scientists have found a way to change the shape of liquid metals, offering opportunities in a new field of morphing electronic circuits. Watch the video…
Researchers from North Carolina State University have changed the shape of liquid metals with an electric current.
The new method controls the “interfacial energy of a liquid metal via electrochemical deposition (or removal) of an oxide layer on its surface using ~1 volt.”
This may one day create self-assembling terminator-style robots.
We present a method to control the interfacial energy of a liquid metal via electrochemical deposition (or removal) of an oxide layer on its surface. Unlike conventional surfactants, this approach can tune the interfacial tension of a metal significantly (from ∼7× that of water to near zero), rapidly, and reversibly using only modest voltages. These properties can be harnessed to induce previously unidentified electrohydrodynamic phenomena for manipulating liquid metal alloys based on gallium, which may enable shape-reconfigurable metallic components in electronic, electromagnetic, and microfluidic devices without the use of toxic mercury.
The paper, “Giant and Switchable Surface Activity of Liquid Metal via Surface Oxidation,” is published online in Proceedings of the National Academy.