New metal changes shape electronically. Could this be the origin of the T-1000?

Scientists at the Technical University of Hamburg and the Helmholtz Center Geesthacht, have created a new material- a metal which changes it’s strength at the touch of a button. The new material can be restructured and transformed within a matter of seconds through changes in the electron structure of a material; hard and brittle material can become soft and malleable. This is nothing new as scientists were able to achieve this feat before, but what makes this metal special is that the restructuring can be triggered electronically and even remotely.

The way scientists performed this miraculous feat was by using a strong acid to eat small ducts into metal. The material which emerges is nano-structured and pervaded by a network of pore channels. The pores are then impregnated with a conductive liquid such as a simple saline solution and a hybrid metal and liquid is created.

When a specific electronic signal is triggered it causes the metal to become solid or malleable depending on the signal. The mechanical properties of the metallic partner are changed by the application of an electric potential in the liquid partner. The effect can be traced back to a strengthening or weakening of the atomic bonding in the surface of the metal when extra electrons are added to or withdrawn from the surface atoms. The strength of the material can be as much as doubled when required. Alternatively, the material can be switched to a state which is weaker, but more damage tolerant, energy-absorbing and malleable.

This brings us to the inevitable yet tantalizing question- Will this chunk of metal eventually be used in the creation of a super robot able to alter form independently? Apparently we are getting a bit ahead of ourselves and NERD TREK received looks of confusion and cute smirks when asking scientists this question. The answer most commonly given was that this technology in it’s advanced stages could be used in the construction of robotic skeletons and exteriors to aid in adjusting to the radical temperatures found in space and on other planets. Most likely NASA will be one of the first to adapt this technology in their space probes and manned vehicles.

Although the scientists prefer to dissuade us, surely one can dream about the future of this technology which may spawn super robots like the T-1000, capable of altering shape and form at will.

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About Jonathan G. Nelson

Jonathan G. Nelson is the editor-in-chief and owner of NERD TREK. He is also owner/publisher at AAW Games / AdventureAWeek.com, a tabletop gaming company based in Snoqualmie, WA. Connect with Jonathan via Facebook.