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T1000 incoming: new liquid metal can move and conform

That's it, judgement day is practically a given and as usual, it's all the fault of those meddling scientists. Chinese researchers investigating unique properties of certain metallic alloys have managed to make a self assembling and self propelling liquid metal, which has the potential for a huge range of products and applications.

Most notably this.

The alloy is mostly made of gallium, a metal that exists as a liquid just under 30 degrees Celsius. It was discovered late last year that if you apply an electrical current to it that it can change shape, which is in itself quite a unique property. However, the new discovery that's been made with the specialist alloy is that if you ‘feed' it with chips of aluminium, it consumes them and exhausts hydrogen gas, propelling itself in a specific direction.

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffxYE15JbPs']

Scientists now believe that with more research, this might make it possible to create liquid metal robots that can shape-shift and self propel.

“The machine has two processes. One is to create gases like hydrogen. Part of these gases form the propulsion. There's also something important, which is the electricity generated behind the alloy,” said professor Liu Jing from China's Tsinghua University (via Reuters). “So this galvanic battery creates an internal electrical power, and this type of electricity will very easily lead to stretching of the surface of the liquid metal in an asymmetrical pattern, and this pattern leads to rotations inside the liquid metal, and the process of these rotations will set the liquid metal in motion in a certain direction.”

Although the first thought in most people's minds is a T1000 like scenario, Liu believes this is more likely to apply to medical sciences, potentially being used to conform to certain body shapes for implants in places like the windpipe or digestive system. It could also be used, he said, to carry medicine to specific points in the body.

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KitGuru Says: Pretty interesting tech. If they did make a T1000 out of it, we'd probably need that big vat of molten metal, as this stuff doesn't hit its boiling point until 2673 K, or around 2400 Celsius. 

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