The truth is often stranger than fiction is a well-known adage. Whether this is true for science fiction or not is a subject for debate. Science does however tend to move steadily towards a reality that was originally portrayed as science fiction. Solid-state components with semiconducting devices and fixed metallic tracks are used for modern electronic technologies like computers and smart phones. Being able to create truly elastic electronic components is a dream that is slowly but surely being realized.
It's been 25 years since "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" gave us nightmares about Skynet and liquid-metal assassin robots, and we're still freaking out about artificial intelligence breaking bad. Now Australian researchers are helping to resurrect fears of the movie's spooky T-1000 killing machine by developing self-propelled liquid metals reminiscent of the ones that made up its body. Researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne plan to create elastic electronic components and soft-circuit systems that act more like live cells. For the most part, our modern electronics use fixed metallic tracks to create circuits that are stuck in a single configuration. This is why you can't simply ask Siri to split and rearrange your iPhone into four smaller iPods to share your music with friends.
A team of scientists from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University, Melbourne, Australia, used liquid metal to create two-dimensional material that is just a few atoms thick. These ultra-thin flakes of metals were created for the first time and the team feels that this discovery will revolutionize electronics.
A new host of liquid metals that have applications towards soft robotics are making movies like'The Terminator' transcend make-believe. According to researchers, experimental liquid metals like gallium and other alloys, when supplemented with nickel or iron, are able to flex and mold into shapes with the use of magnets, much like the iconic movie villain, T-1000 from'The Terminator 2: Judgement Day.' While other such metals have been developed, they contended with two major drawbacks. A new host of liquid metals that have applications towards soft robotics are making movies like'The Terminator' transcend make-believe toward real life. Researchers say experimental liquid metals like gallium and other alloys, when supplemented with nickel or iron, are able to flex and mold into shapes with the use of magnets. A new material revealed by the American Chemical Society solves to major problems experienced by similar substances.
Gallium droplets beat like tiny hearts when activated by electricity and could one day be used to power robot muscles. Xiaolin Wang at the University of Wollongong and his colleagues demonstrated this heartbeat effect by placing a drop of liquid gallium inside a circular electrode. In their video, the gallium droplet initial rests against one side of the electrode, which is tipped at a slight angle. When an electric current is applied, the gallium starts reacting with the surrounding water to form gallium oxide. Because gallium oxide has less surface tension than gallium, the spherical droplet starts to spread out like a pancake.