Watch this material melt like the T-1000 in ‘Terminator 2’

Watch this material melt like the T-1000 in ‘Terminator 2’

Sci-fi movie fans are probably very familiar with that scene in terminator 2 when Robert Patrick’s slippery liquid metal T-1000 robot easily freezes through the metal bars of a security gate. It’s an iconic piece that was based on cutting-edge computer visual effects at the time; After all, that’s something from director James Cameron. But researchers recently developed a novel substance capable of recreating a variation of that ability. With further experimentation and tweaking, this new “magnetic-active solid-liquid phase transition machine” could provide a host of tools for everything from construction repair to medical procedures.

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So far, researchers have been able to make their substance “jump” over moats, climb walls, and even split into two cooperative halves to move around an object before re-forming into a single entity, as detailed in a new study published today. Wednesday in to import. In a cheeky video with some strong T2 In callbacks, a Lego man-shaped mold of the magnetoactive solid-liquid can even be seen liquefying and moving through tiny cell bars before reforming into its original structure. If that last part seems a bit impossible, well, it is. For now.

“There is some context in the video. That [looks] like magic,” Carmel Majidi, lead author and mechanical engineer at Carnegie Mellon, explains to PopSci with a smile. According to Majidi, everything that led to the reform of the model is as it appears: the way it does liquefy before passing through the mesh barrier via alternating electromagnetic currents. From there, however, someone stops the camera to recast the mold back to its original shape.

But even without the little film history gag, Majidi explains that new material from him and his colleagues could go a long way in a number of situations. The team, made up of experts from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Carnegie Mellon University, has created a “phase change” material by embedding magnetic particles inside gallium, a metal that has an extremely low melting point of only 29.8 °C, or approximately 85 °F. . To achieve this, the magnetically infused gallium is exposed to an alternating magnetic field to generate sufficient heat through induction. Changing the trajectory of the electromagnet can instead direct the liquefied form, while retaining a much less viscous state than similar phase-changing materials.

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“There has been a great deal of work on these soft magnetic devices that could be used for biomedical applications,” says Majidi. “Increasingly, these materials [could] used for diagnosis, drug administration… [and] retrieve or remove foreign objects.

However, Majidi and his colleagues’ latest variation stands apart from that blob of similar substances. “What this gives those systems is their ability to now change stiffness and change shape, so now they can have even greater mobility within that context.”

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Majidi cautions, however, that any deployment in doctors’ offices is still some way off. Meanwhile, it’s much closer to being implemented in situations like circuit assembly and repair, where material could seep into hard-to-reach areas before solidifying as a conductor and solder at the same time.

More testing is needed to determine the biocompatibility of the substance in humans, but Majidi argues that it’s not hard to imagine that one day patients will enter a machine similar to an MRI that can guide ingested versions of the material for medical procedures. For now, however, it seems that modern technology is at least one step closer to catching up with terminator 2The magic of visual effects from more than 30 years ago.

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