If you first saw ‘Terminator 2: Judgement Day’ at way too young of an age like some us, your worst nightmare may be coming true. Scientists from the North Carolina State University have found a way to make liquid metal form different shapes, similar to the T-1000 in James Cameron’s sci-fi epic. (This clearly undermines a previous theory that surmises Robert Patrick is actually made of liquid metal.)
Under the leadership of Dr. Michael Dickey, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at NCSU, scientists used a liquid alloy of gallium and indium, known as an eutectic alloy because the two elements used have different melting points.
This eutectic alloy has a relatively high surface tension, meaning that at its resting point the liquid will form a spherical ball. However, the NCSU team discovered that by applying a small voltage, the metal can be manipulated. In this case, the metal flattened out. Once the voltage was removed, it returned to being a ball.
The viscosity of the liquid metal can be adjusted depending on the electrical charge of the voltage.
While this experiment is clearly a first step to creating future robot assassins, scientists believe this breakthrough will change the production of electronics, making them more adaptable and efficient.
“The resulting changes in surface tension are among the largest ever reported, which is remarkable considering it can be manipulated by less than one volt,” Dickey states. “We can use this technique to control the movement of liquid metals, allowing us to change the shape of antennas and complete or break circuits.”
Take a look at the shapeshifting alloy in action. Warning, staring at the flowing metal for too long can put you in a bit of a stupor, but considering we’re closer to T-1000s actually existing, that’s probably the least of your worries.