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'Terminator'-Like Liquid Metal is Developed by Chinese Researchers

Apparently, their dream is to build a liquid metal lattice robot, and now that they have a hand, they are one step closer. Creepy.

Terminator series' iconic villain, a vicious killer robot capable of morphing into liquid form and taking on various shapes and sizes, seems to get more real as the days go by. Chinese researchers have developed what they claimed to be the first liquid metal lattice in the world, demonstrating it by creating a series of prototypes that return to their shapes when crushed.

The liquid metal is made from Field’s alloy, which is currently used as a liquid-metal coolant in nuclear engineering. However, the team demonstrated other potential applications by integrating 3D printing, vacuum casting, and conformal coating.

SEE ALSO: METAL-AIR SCAVENGER ROBOTS WILL 'EAT' METAL TO GENERATE ENERGY

New manufacturing process

Pu Zhang, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science, says, “We spent over half a year developing this manufacturing process because this new lattice material is very hard to process. You need to find the best materials and processing parameters."

'Terminator'-Like Liquid Metal is Developed by Chinese Researchers
Source: Zhang/Binghamton University

"Without the shell, it won’t work, because the liquid metal will flow away. The shell skeleton controls the overall shape and integrity, so the liquid metal itself can be confined in the channels."

Prototypes

The team's prototypes regain their shapes after being heated to the melting point.

'Terminator'-Like Liquid Metal is Developed by Chinese Researchers
Source: Zhang/Binghamton University

The prototypes include "spider-web"-like mesh antennas, honeycombs, soccer balls, and the letters of Bingham University mechanical engineering. Beware, tryphobia-inducing images are ahead. 

'Terminator'-Like Liquid Metal is Developed by Chinese Researchers
Source: Zhang/Binghamton University

In its solid state, liquid metal is safe and strong. It absorbs energy when crushed, and after some heating and cooling, it returns to its original shape and therefore, can be used again.

'Terminator'-Like Liquid Metal is Developed by Chinese Researchers
Source: Zhang/Binghamton University

New possibilities for future settlements

The properties of the prototypes can be revolutionary for engineering since this new liquid metal could provide new possibilities for NASA and private companies.

'Terminator'-Like Liquid Metal is Developed by Chinese Researchers
Source: Zhang/Binghamton University

This means that for example, structures for future settlements on the Moon or Mars could take up less room in the exploration vessel and then be expanded when astronauts reach their destination.

'Terminator'-Like Liquid Metal is Developed by Chinese Researchers
Source: Zhang/Binghamton University

However, Zhang's final goal in mind is to build a liquid metal lattice robot, Binghamton University reports. “Our dream is to build a liquid metal lattice robot, and now we have a hand, so we’re one step further.”

'Terminator'-Like Liquid Metal is Developed by Chinese Researchers
Source: Zhang/Binghamton University

Creepy. Hopefully, Skynet is not in the making. 

The study will be published in Additive Manufacturing.

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