Scientists have created a robot that can switch between solid and liquid states

Perspective: After creating robots that can change their state between solid and liquid, humanity is once again wondering if scientists even watched Terminator 2. Researchers have demonstrated how one of the machines turns into slime to get out of the bars of a cage, not unlike T – 1000 in the 1991 classic.

Of course, this is not a step towards creating the perfect killing machine. Article published in a scientific journal Matter shows that these magnetically active phase transition matter (MPTM) robots are for much more practical, non-ominous purposes, such as entering the stomach as a small solid block, liquefying around a solid foreign object, transforming to capture it, and then exiting the body . .

Robots can also replace missing screws inside complex machines by inserting a device, fusing it into the screw’s threaded socket, and then reshaping it. The researchers also had the robots solder circuits and navigate obstacle courses.

The robots were created by a team from the Chinese University of Hong Kong led by engineer Chengfeng Pan. They are made from magnetic microparticles of neodymium, iron and boron embedded in gallium, which melts at 29.8 degrees Celsius, which is close to room temperature.

In its solid form, the material can support objects weighing up to 30 times its mass. Its melting requires the material to be placed next to magnets with tuned magnetic fields that move tiny magnetic pieces around inside the robot, meaning no external heat source is needed.

Another example the team demonstrated was robots carrying a light bulb on a circuit board before melting its edges, allowing electricity to flow through their bodies and light the light bulb. The researchers also made them climb walls, jump over ditches, and “split in half to move other objects together before recombining.”

“People have been working on these small robots and machines that respond to a magnetic field for quite a while now,” said Carmel Majidi, head of the Soft Machines Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University and senior author of the new study. Motherboard. “Parallel to this, my group has developed many methods using liquid metals—metals like gallium, which have a very low melting point.”

As for the T-1000 tribute video, it’s more of a playful allusion to the shape-shifting Terminator that inspired the robot. The tiny Lego figure in the clamp does indeed melt from solid to liquid in order to break out of the cage, but after passing through the bars, it is manually shaped into its original shape. However, it’s very cool, if not science in action.

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