Ever wonder that it’d take to make a Terminator robot out of liquid metal? A study was released with the American Chemical Study that showed the future of MLMD, a magnetic liquid metal droplet. It’s not exactly ready to be used as a next-generation super soldier just yet, but it’s the next big step. MLMD is created with a multimaterial system including liquid metals, iron particles, and electrolytes, and it’s ready to stretch.
You’ll see the material stretch, break, and re-form in the video presented by the researchers on this project. With the movement of this material, this project created an intelligent scalable conductor in 3D space. The more free the movement of the conductor, the more wild and wacky the gadgets we see made in the future.
Think about flexible display panels, and expand your mind. With magnets and this material – or iterations of this material – engineers will be able to unravel their currently very rigid constructive minds. “Electrical connections at various directions in 3D free space,” said head researcher Liang Hu in the paper cited near the end of this article – wobbly electricity!
The MLMD movements in the demonstration video above are all controlled by magnets with ease. As the researchers on this project wrote, “All the behaviors can be precisely, conveniently, and contactlessly controlled by the magnetic field provided by permanent magnets.”
It’s the ability to stand up in space that makes this unique mixture of materials unique. It’s like a snake, when magnets are used properly. Horizontal and vertical stretching are possible with MLMD. That’s not just moving, but staying together in a mass and stretching.
According to the researchers working on the project produced over the months leading up to this project’s publishing date, MLMD is the way of the future. They suggest that “with all the appealing properties” they’ve presented in their research, this particular MLMD presents a “fundamental and promising platform” where liquid metals will eventually create multi-freedom actuation in free space, and – at some point down the road – will lead to “dynamically reconfigurable intelligent and biomimetic soft robots” the likes of which we’ve only seen in our nightmares.
To learn more about this material, see the research paper “Magnetic Liquid Metals Manipulated in the Three-Dimensional Free Space” in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. This paper was authored by Liang Hu, Hongzhang Wang, Xiaofei Wang, Xiao Liu, Jiarui Guo, and Jing Liu, and can be found with DOI:10.1021/acsami.8b22699 code via ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces, 2019, 11 (8), pp 8685–8692.