the fantasy of Terminator 2 seems to come true. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, in the United States, have created a robot that can change from a solid state to a liquid state and vice versa, according to the will of the person driving it.
The MPTM (Magnetoactive Phase Transition Material) was created from gallium, a metal that melts almost at room temperature (29.8°), adding particles of an alloy of three other elements, neodymium, iron and boron, making it what increases the magnetic response needs to heat up and go from a solid state to a liquid state and then, when it cools, it solidifies again.
“The figure is similar in size to a commercial LEGO figurine: approximately five millimeters wide and one centimeter tall. A magnetic field is used to melt it into a liquid and remove it from the casing,” explained Carmel Majidi, a mechanical engineer at the aforementioned North American institution.
How the liquid robot works
It is made with a matrix of a metal, gallium, which, pure, melts at 29.8 degrees. I mean, it would melt in your hands. To this matrix they added particles of an alloy of three other elements, neodymium, iron and boron. With this, they amplified the device’s response to magnetic fields.
A magnetic field of a certain intensity induces an electric current within the gallium that generates heat, transforming it from solid to liquid. Without reaching that threshold, it is also these magnetic fields that allow it to jump 20 times its height, rotate on itself at 1,500 rotations per minute or move at a speed of one meter per second, explained the newspaper. The country.
What would your profits be?
This material has high strength in its solid form, so the researchers suggest that it could be used as a universal screw for use in confined spaces.
In addition, the creators believe that its use will be more efficient in medical applications: in a demonstration, they used the material to solder an LED circuit by remote control and recover objects inside a replica of a human stomach. Playing with magnets, they managed to get a ball out of their stomachs. In another sample, what they tested was the administration of a drug wrapped in MPTM. After getting it to the place where it was needed, it melted, releasing it.
While it’s fun to think that the T-1000, the villain of Terminator 2, is the inspiration for this invention, the truth is that sea cucumbers were, in fact, the true inspirations, according to Majidi.
These marine creatures, for example, can harden in the face of danger, a trait that has long captivated researchers in materials science and robotics. Such an attribute can allow a device to maneuver in tight spaces while being soft and hardening to resist wear and tear.