When you think about the term “liquid metal”, if you’re old enough chances are you might associate that with the antagonist from James Cameron’s Terminator 2. Now it looks like we are taking one additional step towards that future as researchers have actually created liquid metal that responds to programming.

Developed by scientists at the University of Sussex and Swansea University, they have found a way to apply an electrical charge to liquid metal that will apparently get it to change its shape.  In their experiments, they have managed to get it to twist and reform into 3D shapes like letters and even a heart.

According to Yutaka Tokuda, the research associate working on the project at the University of Sussex, “This is a new class of programmable materials in a liquid state which can dynamically transform from a simple droplet shape to many other complex geometry in a controllable manner.”

Tokuda also mentions how this could lead to the creation of other pieces of technology in the future, such as soft robots and even flexible displays. “While this work is in its early stages, the compelling evidence of detailed 2D control of liquid metals excites us to explore more potential applications in computer graphics, smart electronics, soft robotics and flexible displays.” It might be a while before we see practical use for programmable liquid metal, but the research definitely sounds promising.

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