Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Towards the T-1000: Liquid metals propel future electronics

04.08.2016

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.


Continuous motion of a self-propelling liquid metal droplet under a pH gradient, shown at different time intervals. The droplet is placed in a fluidic channel, midway between two reservoirs filled with different electrolytes of acidic and basic nature.

Credit: RMIT University

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.ly/liquidmetalresearch

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.

Media Contact

Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh
kourosh.kalantar@rmit.edu.au
61-399-253-254

 @RMIT

http://www.rmit.edu.au 

Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh | EurekAlert!

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht New software speeds origami structure designs
12.10.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology

nachricht Seeing the next dimension of computer chips
11.10.2017 | Osaka University

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Electrode materials from the microwave oven

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

New material for digital memories of the future

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

Physics boosts artificial intelligence methods

19.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>