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!
Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions
21.10.2016 | Stanford University
New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality
19.10.2016 | University of Waterloo
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences
24.10.2016 | Life Sciences
24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy