Discovery of a Voltage-Stimulated Heartbeat Effect in Droplets of Liquid Gallium

Journal: Physical Review Letters

Published: 2018-07-11

DOI: 10.1103/physrevlett.121.024302

Affiliations: 3

Authors: 6

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Research Highlight

Giving the tin man a heart

© GeorgePeters/Getty

© GeorgePeters/Getty

A droplet of gallium can be made to beat like a heart, paving the way for its use in reconfigurable electronics and artificial muscles, and for powering robots.

Fluid motion is used in biological organisms and mechanical systems to transport materials, absorb shocks and apply pressure. Existing mechanical devices, however, rely on mechanical flow controllers that are inferior to those used in biological systems.

Now, a team of scientists from the University of Wollongong in Australia has used an electric current to induce a ‘heartbeat’ in tiny droplets of gallium placed inside a graphite ring. By changing the voltage across the ring, the researchers were able to alter the surface tension of the droplet, making it oscillate like a beating heart. This could lead to new fluid-based timers and actuators.

Supported content

  1. Physical Review Letters 121, 024302 (2018). doi: 10.1103/physrevlett.121.024302
Institutions Share
University of Wollongong (UOW), Australia 0.83
MOE Key Laboratory of Bio-Inspired Smart Interfacial Science and Technology, BUAA, China 0.08
Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry (TIPC), CAS, China 0.08