Feeds

Self-forming liquid metal just like a TERMINATOR emerges from China lab

The future's not set. There's no fate but what we make for ourselves – oh

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Scientists in China say they have developed a way to manipulate liquid metal substances into self-assembling shapes and forms.

The researchers, working out of Tsinghua University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, reckon that by applying an electric charge to liquid metal alloys, they could control the behavior of substances and build simple shapes.

Their study found that when presented with an electric current, the alloys took on spherical shapes that could move and rotate. Additionally, the current flow, via copper wire, also caused multiple droplets in a single dish to fuse together into a larger sphere shape – sorta like the terrifying T-1000 assassin reforming in Terminator 2.

Diagram of the liquid-metal taken from the paper

Liquid metal reformed ... Does this remind you of anything?
(Click to enlarge slightly. Credit: Lei Sheng, Jie Zhang, Jing Liu)

"Such liquid metal transformers and locomotors could provide on-demand use given specific designing," the researchers wrote in their paper [PDF].

Science fiction no more ... The T-1000

"Importantly, a smart liquid metal machine could be extended to three dimensions when a spatial electrode configuration is adopted."

The team used a 12V supply and non-toxic alloys with room-temperature melting points in water to demonstrate their work; as well as a direct current, the material relies on interactions between the metals and the surface tension of the water.

Scientists believe that the discovery could be the first step in creating more complex liquid metal objects, such as 3D modeling units, electronic components and even liquid "soft" robots. Because the liquid metal alloy material is safe for humans to handle (as opposed to conventional liquid elements, like mercury) and relatively inexpensive to produce and use, the techniques could be adopted for everyday use in science or medicine. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
ANU boffins demo 'tractor beam' in water
The current state of the art, apparently
China to test recoverable moon orbiter
I'll have some rocks and a moon cheese pizza please, home delivery
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
Vulture 2 spaceplane autopilot brain surgery a total success
LOHAN slips into some sexy bespoke mission parameters
Another step forward for diamond-based quantum computers
Square cut or pear-shaped, these qubits don't lose their shape
LOHAN acquires aircraft arboreal avoidance algorithm acronyms
Is that an ARMADILLO in your PANTS or are you just pleased to see me?
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.