LIQUID METAL MACHINES have been developed by Chinese scientists that can 'eat' substances to change form, like the shape-shifting T-1000 robot in Terminator 2.
The technology was developed by researchers at the Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Tsinghua University medical school, and published in the journal Advanced Materials.
The jounral explains how liquid robots can 'eat' substances that then provide the energy to propel themselves forward like a self-fuelled motor.
It is said that the shape-shifting flexible intelligent machines could "pave the way for the development of a liquid metal robot", like the T-1000, a fictional shapeshifting robot assassin and the primary antagonist in the Terminator 2: Judgement Day movie.
The T-1000 was described in the movie as being composed of a mimetic poly-alloy, a liquid metal that allows it to assume the form of other objects. It is further explained in the prologue of the film's novelisation that the T-1000 was created through nanotechnology, and is a 'nanomorph' able to scan and visually mimic the molecular structure of whatever it is touching.
This sounds a little far-fetched compared with the developments of the Chinese researchers, but the theory is not a million miles away.
The scientists tested the liquid machines by providing them with small pieces of aluminium in the form of a liquid metal ball with a diameter of 5mm. The liquid robots 'ate' the aluminium, which caused them to move spontaneously in various solutions and structured channels for more than an hour at a speed of 5cm per second.
The journal explains how the power of the liquid metal motor comes from the endogenous electric field of liquid alloys and metal 'food', and the hydrogen generated by the electrochemical reactions.
"The biomimetic mollusc is highly self-adaptive and closely conforms to the geometrical space it is in," the scientists wrote.
The researchers then used this theory to develop several liquid metal machines that can move in alkalescent, acidic or neutral electrolytes.
"Such liquid metal transformers and locomotors could provide on-demand use given specific designs," the paper states. µ
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