Researchers create self-healing, stretchable wires using liquid metal
Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed elastic, self-healing wires in which both the liquid-metal core and the polymer sheath reconnect at the molecular level after being severed. "Because we're using liquid metal, these wires have excellent conductive properties," says Dr. Michael Dickey, an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at NC State and co-author of a paper on the work. "And because the wires are also elastic and self-healing, they have a lot of potential for use in technologies that could be exposed to high-stress environments."
The researchers first created tiny tunnels, called microfluidic channels, in a commercially available self-healing polymer using solid wire. By filling those channels with a liquid-metal alloy of indium and gallium, they were able to create a liquid-metal wire in an elastic sheath. Because the wire is liquid, it can be stretched along with the polymer sheath.
When the wires are sliced or severed, the liquid metal oxidizes -- forming a "skin" that prevents it from leaking out of its sheath. When the severed edges of the wire are placed back together, the liquid metal reconnects and the sheath re-forms its molecular bonds.
"We're also excited about this work because it allows us to create more complex circuits and rewire existing circuits using nothing more than a pair of scissors by cutting and reconfiguring the wires so that they connect in different ways," Dickey says.
Similarly, the technique developed by Dickey's team could be used to create complex, three-dimensional structures with connecting microfluidic channels, by cutting the polymer sheath into sections and reconnecting them at different angles with the channels still in alignment.
Source: North Carolina State University
- Wire can heal itself after being cutfrom UPIWed, 23 Jan 2013, 20:00:18 EST
- Self-healing, stretchable wires created using liquid metalfrom Science DailyWed, 23 Jan 2013, 14:30:38 EST
- Researchers create self-healing, stretchable wires using liquid metalfrom PhysorgWed, 23 Jan 2013, 14:01:02 EST
Latest Science NewsletterGet the latest and most popular science news articles of the week in your Inbox! It's free!
Learn more about
Check out our next project, Biology.Net
From other science news sites
Popular science news articles
- Study shows how chimpanzees share skills
- NASA's Swift mission observes mega flares from a mini star
- Laser-guided sea monkeys show how zooplankton migrations may affect global ocean currents
- How dinosaur arms turned into bird wings
- Semen secrets: How a previous sexual partner can influence another male's offspring
- Preference for built-up habitats could explain rapid spread of the tree bumblebee in UK
- Clear skies on exo-Neptune
- Earth's water is older than the sun
- Tooth buried in bone shows prehistoric predators tangled across land, sea
- Talk therapy -- not medication -- best for social anxiety disorder, large study finds
- Ancient mammal relatives were active at night 100 million years before origin of mammals
- Rosetta-Alice spectrograph obtains first far ultraviolet spectra of a cometary surface
- Giant garbage patches help redefine ocean boundaries
- Newly identified galactic supercluster is home to the Milky Way
- How much gravity is enough?