Self-propelling liquid metals a critical step to future elastic electronics
Science fiction is inching closer to reality with the development of revolutionary self-propelling liquid metals -- a critical step towards future elastic electronics.
While building a shape-shifting liquid metal T-1000 Terminator may still be far on the horizon, the pioneering work by researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, is setting the foundation for moving beyond solid state electronics towards flexible and dynamically reconfigurable soft circuit systems.
Watch the YouTube video: http://bit.
Modern electronic technologies like smart phones and computers are mainly based on circuits that use solid state components, with fixed metallic tracks and semiconducting devices.
But researchers dream of being able to create truly elastic electronic components -- soft circuit systems that can act more like live cells, moving around autonomously and communicating with each other to form new circuits rather than being stuck in one configuration.
Liquid metals, in particular non-toxic alloys of gallium, have so far offered the most promising path for realising that dream.
As well as being incredibly malleable, any droplet of liquid metal contains a highly-conductive metallic core and an atomically thin semiconducting oxide skin -- all the essentials needed for making electronic circuits.
To work out how to enable liquid metal to move autonomously, Professor Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh and his group from the School of Engineering at RMIT first immersed liquid metal droplets in water.
"Putting droplets in another liquid with an ionic content can be used for breaking symmetry across them and allow them to move about freely in three dimensions, but so far we have not understood the fundamentals of how liquid metal interacts with surrounding fluid," Kalantar-zadeh said.
"We adjusted the concentrations of acid, base and salt components in the water and investigated the effect.
"Simply tweaking the water's chemistry made the liquid metal droplets move and change shape, without any need for external mechanical, electronic or optical stimulants.
"Using this discovery, we were able to create moving objects, switches and pumps that could operate autonomously - self-propelling liquid metals driven by the composition of the surrounding fluid."
The research lays the foundation for being able to use "electronic" liquid metals to make 3D electronic displays and components on demand, and create makeshift and floating electronics.
"Eventually, using the fundamentals of this discovery, it may be possible to build a 3D liquid metal humanoid on demand - like the T-1000 Terminator but with better programming," Kalantar-zadeh said.
The research, which has potential applications in a range of industries including smart engineering solutions and biomedicine, is published on 4 August in Nature Communications.
In the paper, first author Dr Ali Zavabeti details the precise conditions in which liquid metals can be moved or stretched, how fluid on their surfaces moves around and -- as a result -- how they can make different flows.
The work also explains how the electric charges that accumulate on the surface of liquid metal droplets, together with their oxide skin, can be manipulated and used.
Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh | EurekAlert!
New 3-D display takes the eye fatigue out of virtual reality
22.06.2017 | The Optical Society
Modeling the brain with 'Lego bricks'
19.06.2017 | University of Luxembourg
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
Germany counts high-precision manufacturing processes among its advantages as a location. It’s not just the aerospace and automotive industries that require almost waste-free, high-precision manufacturing to provide an efficient way of testing the shape and orientation tolerances of products. Since current inline measurement technology not yet provides the required accuracy, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is collaborating with four renowned industry partners in the INSPIRE project to develop inline sensors with a new accuracy class. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project is scheduled to run until the end of 2019.
New Manufacturing Technologies for New Products
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
22.06.2017 | Life Sciences
22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences