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.
It haunts you when you're trying to eat your dinner in peace. It disturbs you when you're trying to watch TV. It even keeps you awake in the wee small hours. It's the insufferable, interminable drip-drip-dripping of a leaky tap. Well, scientists at the University of Cambridge have finally figured out what's causing what is almost certainly the world's most infuriating sound.
The self-assembling shape shifting killer robots from the Terminator films could be a step closer, thanks to the development of self-propelling liquid metals. A team of Australian researchers is laying the groundwork for T-1000s by creating the basis of soft electric circuits. Unlike modern circuitry found in electronic devices, which remain based on circuits with solid state components, future connections could be much more flexible and able to move and reconfigure as necessary. A team at RMIT University in Melbourne used non-toxic alloys of the metal gallium, which is liquid at close to room temperature. By adding droplets of the alloy galinstan to water and changing the pH, they were able to make the drops move about freely.
Researchers have developed an electronic rubber material that will help create soft, stretchy robots and electronics. The material, given the nickname'thubber,' can conduct heat and is also elastic in a similar way to biological tissue - and was even used by researchers to create a robotic fish with a'thubber' tail. The material can stretch to over six time its length and be used in heated garments for injury therapy as well as soft robotics and even flexible electronics such as an iPad that can fit into your wallet. A: The researchers created a soft-robotic fish that can swim using a tail made of'thubber.' The fish was composed of a silicon body and caudal fin connected by the thubber.
A drop of water can behave as an "engine", lugging cargo many times its own mass (see video above). Syuji Fujii of the Osaka Institute of Technology in Japan and his colleagues drew inspiration from Stenus beetles. They propel themselves across ponds by secreting a substance called stenusin, which lowers the surface tension of the water behind them. This creates an imbalance called Marangoni flow, pulling the beetles forwards. For their version, the team coated millimetre-sized drops of water in a nanometre-scale powder of polypyrrole, a plastic which heats up when illuminated and also repels water.