Australian researchers have encapsulated droplets of liquid metal with an insulative or semiconducting nano-coating, that could have applications in electronics and industrial sensing.
“The ‘liquid metal marbles’ our team has developed are like flexible ball bearings with extraordinary physical properties,” said lead investigator Vijay Sivan at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University in a press release.
“They can endure high impacts without disintegrating, can tolerate high temperatures, can operate like semiconducting-conducting systems—the base of transistors—and are compatible with micro and nano-fluidic systems.
“The possibilities this new platform offers are amazing and we look forward to exploring the potential of ‘liquid metal marbles’ in a range of applications.”
The researchers coated the droplets with selected nanoparticles, creating non-stick “marbles” that are also lasting.
“This simple approach overcomes the limitations of droplets and liquid metals and means we can use a broad range of powder coating materials, from insulating to semiconducting and highly conducting,” Sivan said.
“The idea of building liquid electronics based on liquid metal marbles is unique, as they can not only move and form makeshift electronic devices, they can also produce strong plasmonic fields around them.
“For sensing applications, these marbles are the safest alternative to mercury-based heavy metal ion sensors, while their thermal conduction properties are also fascinating, and should be further investigated.”
The findings were published in Advanced Functional Materials on Jan. 14.
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