Scientists have created programmable shape-shifting liquid metal


Researchers at the University of Sussex and Swansea University have applied electrical charges to manipulate liquid metal into 2D shapes such as letters and a heart. The team says the findings represent an “extremely promising” new class of materials that can be programmed to seamlessly change shape. This open up new possibilities in ‘soft robotics’ and shape-changing displays, the researcher say.

While the invention might bring to mind the film Terminator 2, in which the villain morphs out of a pool of liquid metal, the creation of 3D shapes is still some way off. More immediate applications could include reprogrammable circuit boards and conductive ink.

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Unmanned Remote-Control Aircraft Designed for Stormy Sea Rescues


The marine rescue UAV prototype.

People often need to be rescued at sea because of stormy weather – exactly the kind of conditions in which it is not safe to fly. Nonetheless, fully-crewed helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft are regularly sent out into such weather to perform maritime rescues, endangering both the crew and the expensive aircraft themselves. Soon, however, a new type of unmanned remote-control aircraft may be able to do the job. Not only would flight crews be kept out of harm’s way, but as demonstrated by a functioning prototype, the aircraft would outperform conventional planes in rough weather, thanks to shape-shifting technology. (Pics)


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A Lamp That Adjusts To the Environment

A Lamp That Adjusts To the Environment 

 Stimuli 3.0

Here’s a design concept that shows some unusual thinking on the part of its creator, Chris Natt: What if you fitted a smart lamp with petals that open and close like a flower? The result is Stimuli 3.0, a shape-shifting device that measures ambient light and adjusts its illumination accordingly, using a three-axis gearbox.

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Shape-Shifting Peugeot 888 Concept Vehicle

 Shape-Shifting Peugeot 888 Concept Vehicle

Ingenuity at its finest

Here at the Impact Lab, we love concept vehicles – not because we somehow think they’ll ever make it to market, but because we’re impressed by the innovative thinking behind them. Take the Peugeot 888, which looks like a very slick two-seater – but much more when you dig a little deeper. It turns out this solar-electric super-car is capable of a unique feat of imaginative engineering: it can shrink!

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