Solid to Liquid to Solid Transforming Robots Are Now Real

Solid robots can now move, melt and reform like the T-1000 in the movie Terminator 2.

Magnetoactive liquid-solid phase transitional matter.

• Magnetoactive phase transitional matter (MPTM) is made of NdFeB embedded liquid metal
• MPTMs can reversibly switch between solid and liquid phase
• MPTMs can solder electronic components and assemble parts in hard-to-reach space
• MPTMs can remove foreign objects or deliver drugs in a model stomach

Magnetically actuated miniature machines can perform multimodal locomotion and programmable deformations. However, they are either solid magnetic elastomers with limited morphological adaptability or liquid material systems with low mechanical strength. Here, we report magnetoactive phase transitional matter (MPTM) composed of magnetic neodymium-iron-boron microparticles embedded in liquid metal. MPTMs can reversibly switch between solid and liquid phase by heating with alternating magnetic field or through ambient cooling. In this way, they uniquely combine high mechanical strength (strength, 21.2 MPa; stiffness, 1.98 GPa), high load capacity (able to bear 30 kg), and fast locomotion speed (>1.5 m/s) in the solid phase with excellent morphological adaptability (elongation, splitting, and merging) in the liquid phase. We demonstrate the unique capabilities of MPTMs by showing their dynamic shape reconfigurability by realizing smart soldering machines and universal screws for smart assembly and machines for foreign body removal and drug delivery in a model stomach.

5 thoughts on “Solid to Liquid to Solid Transforming Robots Are Now Real”

    • Once nano-robotics gets going, T-1000-like sape-shifting robots are pretty much inevitable. But for those who fear their deadly potential, keep in mind that a T-1000 is also the ultimate bodyguard. It all depends on the programming. They can actually be very useful if programmed right.

  1. You wouldn’t even need a whole robot like T-1000. Just carry a small amount of it with you. It could transform into any key you needed, a knife or a sword…

    • Or into pretty much any other tool, container, gadget, etc. Even clothing. The limiting factors are the mechanical properties and power supply.

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