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Liquid Metal Brings Soft Robotics a Step Closer


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A blob of liquid metal morphs into the letter S using programmable electrical charges.

Researchers at the University of Sussex and Swansea University have applied electrical charges to manipulate liquid metal into two-dimensional shapes, such as letters and a heart.

Credit: University of Sussex

Researchers at the University of Sussex and Swansea University in the U.K. say they have applied electrical charges to manipulate liquid metal into two-dimensional shapes such as letters and a heart.

The team notes the results mark an "extremely promising" new class of materials that can be programmed to seamlessly change shape, a breakthrough they say could lead to new possibilities in soft robotics and shape-changing displays.

"This is a new class of programmable materials in a liquid state which can dynamically transform from a simple droplet shape to many other complex geometry in a controllable manner," says University of Sussex researcher Yutaka Tokuda.

The team says the electric fields used to shape the liquid are created by a computer, meaning the position and shape of the liquid metal can be programmed and controlled dynamically.

The research was presented this week at the ACM Interactive Surfaces and Spaces (ISS 2017) conference in Brighton, U.K.

From University of Sussex (United Kingdom)
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