In an obvious attempt to create the T-1000 from Terminator 2, scientists have managed to shape liquid metal into various structures.
Researchers at North Carolina State University have managed to utilize 3D-printing technology to create free standing structures made of liquid metal at room temperature. Dr Michael Dickey, an assistant professor in chemical and bio-molecular engineering at the university explains: “It’s difficult to create structures out of liquids, because liquids want to bead up. But we’ve found that a liquid metal alloy of gallium and indium reacts to the oxygen in the air at room temperature to form a ‘skin’ that allows the liquid metal structures to retain their shapes.”
Dr. Mickey is co-author of the paper describing the findings, and he and his team believe the newly developed techniques can be used for connecting electronic components not only on a plane, but also up or down. One particular technique involves stacking droplets of liquid metal on top of each other. The droplets adhere, but never merge into a larger drop. Another technique involves using a polymer mold into which the metal is poured. The polymer is then dissolved leaving the metal structure behind.
Not quite a terminator, but cool nonetheless!
Dickey believes such a mold could be used to make liquid wires, though his team is exploring numerous possible applications for the technology… possible including the creation of killer robots from the future. “I’d also like to note that the work by an undergraduate, Collin Ladd, was indispensable to this project,” added Dickey, “He helped develop the concept, and literally created some of this technology out of spare parts he found himself.” Now there’s a good Ladd!