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Low-Temperature Triggered Shape Transformation of Liquid Metal Microdroplets

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posted on 12.08.2020, 13:38 by Xuyang Sun, Rui Guo, Bo Yuan, Sen Chen, Hongzhang Wang, Mengjia Dou, Jing Liu, Zhi-Zhu He
Shape transformable materials that can respond to external environments have attracted widespread interest over the fields of soft robotics, flexible electronics, and tissue engineering. Among stimuli-responsive materials, liquid metals exhibit rather unique characteristics of versatile morphological changes upon diverse stimuli, including chemicals, electrical field, and mechanical force, etc. Herein, a superfast (few milliseconds), large-scaled (13.8% deformation increase), and fierce (cracks formation) transformation of liquid metal microdroplets (LMMs) with strong impulse expanded force due to liquid–solid phase transition in a dual fluid system composed of LMMs and aqueous solution is reported. When subject to low-temperature stimulus, LMM would transform from ellipsoidal shape to amorphous shape induced by thermal stress, driving the shape morphing. Furthermore, the phase changes of LMMs as well as the formation of surrounding ice crystals are proven to be responsible for this phenomenal behavior. The densification of ice crystals is demonstrated to play a significant role in the transformable behavior. In particular, these nonconductive LMMs in aqueous solutions are discovered to turn into conducive materials with an impedance change of about 105 times. The present discovery is of fundamental and practical significance, and would open new venues in fields such as fluid mechanics, thermal science, flexible electronics, biomedicine, and so forth.

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