Subscribe to CIO Magazine »

Liquid metal marbles coated in “nanoparticles” to advance soft electronics

RMIT discovery has potential for use in flexible electronic devices

Just one week after announcing a breakthrough nanotechnology material, RMIT University scientists have created droplets of liquid metal coated in nanoparticles, which they claim will advance research into soft electronics and industrial sensing technology.

Scientists at RMIT’s Platform Technologies Research Institute developed “liquid metal marbles” by using functional nanoparticles as a semi-solid coating on liquid metals.

Lead investigator Dr Vijay Sivan said the marbles – which are like flexible ball bearings – were developed as part of investigations into flexible conductive systems for electronic and electromagnetic units.

He told CIO, they had the potential to be used in flexible electronic devices, such as stretchable interconnects for elastic electronic surfaces as well as reconfigurable wires and antennas. Manufacturers such as Samsung have already developed stretchable displays.

The non-stick, durable liquid metal marbles overcome the limitations of liquid metals and enable scientists to use powder coating materials from insulating to semiconducting and highly conducting, Dr Sivan said.

“The idea of building liquid electronics based on liquid metal marbles is unique, as they can not only move and form makeshift electronic devices, they can also produce strong plasmonic fields around them,” he said.

“For sensing applications, these marbles are the safest alternative to mercury-based heavy metal ion sensors, while their thermal conduction properties are also fascinating, and should be further investigated.”

Sivan said the marbles can “endure high impacts and temperatures without disintegrating, can operate like semiconducting systems, and are compatible with micro and nano-fluidic systems.

Sivan said that when solid metal is used in a "flexible electronic environment" it becomes damaged and disintegrates. However, liquid metal "actually self-heals" making it suitable to use in flexible electronic devices in the future.

The discovery follows news earlier this week that a separate RMIT research team – working with scientists from the CSIRO – created a new two-dimensional nano-material that may help manufacturers create even smaller computing devices that offer significant improvements in processing speed.

Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.

References show all
Comments are now closed.
Related Coverage
Related Whitepapers
Latest Stories
Community Comments
Tags: CSIRO, liquid metal, RMIT University, nanotechnology
Latest Blog Posts
  • The Future of IT: From Chaos to Service Automation
    Technology has become the heart and soul of every business, but IT workload and system complexity become more challenging. This whitepaper details the future of IT, the major challenges facing CIOs, and the three ways to transform IT so CIOs can lead the way.
    Learn more »
  • Why you should be re-thinking your approach to data protection
    Organisations of all shapes and sizes need a new approach to data protection that addresses the challenges of data growth, but IT budgets are not keeping pace with the escalating costs of supporting storage requirements. This whitepaper explores how securing and retrieving organisational data will need to be done more efficiently.
    Learn more »
  • PCI DSS v3.0 - Compliance Guide
    Due to a lack of consumer confidence and a subsequent drop in sales, all entities that handle credit cardholder information are being challenged to adopt more effective data protection measures. This paper provides information on available tools to help validate compliance with the latest version of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).
    Learn more »
All whitepapers
rhs_login_lockGet exclusive access to Invitation only events CIO, reports & analysis.
Salary Calculator

Supplied by

View the full Peoplebank ICT Salary & Employment Index

Recent comments