In the far 90s, director James Cameron in the second part of the movie "Terminator" introduced a robot made of liquid metal T-1000. Then such behavior of the metal (with the exception of mercury and some other experimental alloys) seemed like a real fantasy. However, science does not stand still, and although we have not yet reached the creation of the T-1000, in the future anyone can print liquid metal articles at home.
According to the editors of Advanced Materials Technologies, a group of scientists from the University of Oregon under the leadership of Yegit Mengyuch created a modified form of metal alloy. This approach (unlike other similar developments) allows you to use the alloy in any existing 3D-printers. In this way, it is possible to create conductive elements that can be bent and even stretched at room temperature. However, similar materials created earlier had low viscosity and high surface tension.
A group of researchers from the University of Oregon in their work decided to use galinstant. This is a metal consisting of gallium, indium and tin, the melting point of which is below 30 degrees Celsius. To increase the viscosity, scientists added to the alloy nickel particles with a diameter of 800 nanometers to 7 micrometers.
Mixing scheme of metals
The production process itself is as follows: an alloy is poured into a special vessel with nickel particles, after which an ultrasonic radiator is immersed in the resulting mixture, which allows the alloy to be evenly oxidized, increasing the viscosity of the final material. The resulting metal in consistency resembles a paste that can be used for 3D printing. Scientists have already printed several designs of different shapes. In addition, experts argue that the new alloy can be used as a middle layer between two elastic polymers, which makes it possible to create, for example, stretching microcircuits.