Scientists Have Created A Robust ‘Terminator-Like’ Liquid Metal That Can Change Shapes And Stretch

Researchers have discovered that mixing liquid metals like gallium with nickel or iron creates a stretchable 'Terminator-like' metal when manipulated with magnets.

The Terminator robot is seen in the paddock following qualifying for the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya on May 9, 2009 in Barcelona, Spain.
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Researchers have discovered that mixing liquid metals like gallium with nickel or iron creates a stretchable 'Terminator-like' metal when manipulated with magnets.

Suggesting that films with towering and terrifying robots may be more than just a little prophetic, scientists have just created a robust “Terminator-like” liquid which is not only able to change its shape, but is also able to be stretched for great distances both vertically and horizontally.

According to Fox News, the new research has illustrated how liquid metals like gallium are able to be moved and stretched with magnets, as long as either nickel or iron are added into the gallium mix.

This Terminator-like liquid, otherwise known as MLMD (magnetic liquid metal droplet), can even be manipulated with a magnet to such a degree that the finished product resembles a walking amphibian, as an abstract for the new study noted.

“Moreover, the vertically stretched MLMD (magnetic liquid metal droplet) can move horizontally with its half body in the solution and the other half in the air, which resembles the nature of an upright walking amphibian.”

This is, of course, not the first time that history has been made with a bendable metal. While other research has looked into liquid metals that could be bent if they were at just the right room temperature, previous research only allowed scientists to stretch these liquid metals in a horizontal direction, rather than the additional vertical which the Terminator-like liquid has now allowed scientists to achieve.

The other liquid metals which were tested also needed to be submerged within water, as without this immersion, scientists discovered that the material would swiftly turn into an unworkable paste.

However, this was not the case with the newer gallium. Once iron and nickel were added, and the alloy was submerged in hydrochloric acid, the surface tension of this mixture was gradually lowered.

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After concocting this new liquid metal, scientists were able to “stretch the droplet to almost four times its resting length” and use magnets to manipulate and create different shapes.

As the scientists involved in the new research noted in the study, MLMD so far appears to be the perfect material for the future of soft robots.

“MLMD presents a fundamental and promising platform for the liquid metals to further develop the multi-freedom actuation in free space and eventually lead to the dynamically reconfigurable intelligent and biomimetic soft robots in the future.”

The new study into the Terminator-like liquid that scientists have created which both stretches and changes shape has been published in Applied Materials & Interfaces.