Without doubt. He is one of the most famous villains in the cinema. Was that Cyborg the future that seemed to be made of liquid metal. Appeared in Terminator in the 90s and it seems so futuristic … or it seemed. A bismuth, indium and tin alloy was used to develop the world's first liquid metal network. Their experimental applications make us believe that the liquid metal robot is close to us.
He was introduced by Pu Zhang, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Binghamton University in New York. He published in Additive Manufacturing magazine how useful it is for the new field alloy material. The mixture is named after its inventor Simon Quellen Field. It becomes liquid at a relatively low melting point of 62 ° C (144 ° F).
From liquid to solid
Field's alloy is currently used as a liquid metal coolant in nuclear technology. Zhang and his team combined the metal mesh material with a rubber jacket through a hybrid manufacturing process. They integrate 3D printing, vacuum casting and protective coating.
"Without the case, it won't work because the molten metal will flow," Zhang said in a statement. “The shell skeleton controls shape and general integrity. The liquid metal itself can be confined to the channels. We have spent over half a year developing this manufacturing process. "
The team produced a series of prototypes that regained their shape after heating to the melting point. These included spider web antennas, honeycombs and soccer balls. One of them reminds us Terminator. It is a hand that slowly opens when the metal grill melts.
These prototypes offer remarkable visual effects. The properties behind it could inspire countless uses. When the liquid metal is in the solid state, it is very safe and strong. It absorbs a lot of energy when it is crushed. Then it returns to its original shape and can be reused.
Use in space
Zhang sees many opportunities for NASA in this new liquid metal research. Satellite designers could pack the "spider web" in a small package and use it as an antenna that is already in orbit. The structures for future settlements on the moon would take up less space on board.
An interplanetary spaceship could be constructed using a metal mesh material. A spaceship can crash if it hits the moon or Mars with an impact. Engineers typically use aluminum or steel to make the pillow structures. But after landing on the moon, the metal absorbs energy and deforms. It's over, you can only use it once. With this alloy, you can crash, but then heat up to regain its shape. "
While exploring how to build on this metal mesh research, Zhang has one final goal in mind: "We believe the liquid metal robot is nearby and it is our dream to build it."
Hopefully this robot will arrive with the included quality chip. True, Terminator?