Print 11 comment(s) - last by BillyBatson.. on Dec 20 at 4:11 PM

Researchers turned liquid metal into wires that are capable of stretching eight times their normal length

Electronic accessories such as headphones and chargers could get a huge boost from a recent North Carolina State University study.

The study, led by NC State Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Dr. Michael Dickey, has turned liquid metal into wires that are capable of stretching eight times their normal length.

This is how it works: a thin tube made of elastic polymer is filled with a liquid metal alloy of gallium and indium. Unlike previous studies, the elastic polymer and liquid metal alloys are kept separate so that the metals can conduct electricity without diminishing elasticity.

“Increasing the amount of metal improves the conductivity of the composite, but diminishes its elasticity,” said Dickey. “Our approach keeps the materials separate, so you have maximum conductivity without impairing elasticity. In short, our wires are orders of magnitude more stretchable than the most conductive wires, and at least an order of magnitude more conductive than the most stretchable wires currently in the literature.”

While this could prove beneficial to electronics and electronic textiles, the researchers still need to figure out a way to stop any leakage of the metal if the wires are cut.

Check out this video of the wire:

Source: North Carolina State University

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By Jedi2155 on 12/19/2012 8:38:03 PM , Rating: 3
If it can be stretched by up to 8x, I wonder if the increase in resistivity of metal due to increased length is enough to affect small signals such as headphone sound quality....would be interesting to see ways they compensate for if it does.....

RE: Resistivity?
By BillyBatson on 12/19/2012 9:52:19 PM , Rating: 2
very good point jedi, stretching would definitely effect audio quality but with headphones it most likely won't be noticeable.
I think this is a great idea, as someone who only buys high end earbude (my current every day wear buds are Shure se425's and my outdoors I don't care what happens to them are Shure se215's) this would be invaulable to me. i take such good care of mine that they all end up failing when the wire has weakened/stretched at either right above the 3mm jack or there the wire mets the earbuds. I purchased my 425's from Guitar Center because they have the best accidental damage coverage for an addintional fee of course ($40 in the case of my 425s) and after 18 months the wire started failing at the earbuds where there is a metal memory wire. Istead of buying new wires (shure's x25 models have detachable earbuds) I used the coverage warranty and purchased the coverage again.
they don't need to create an entire cable made of this stuff just at both ends of the wire, which i also assume wouldn't impact resistance quite as much.

RE: Resistivity?
By johnsonx on 12/20/2012 5:36:39 AM , Rating: 2
oh, I doubt it will effect audio quality. It might affect it though.

RE: Resistivity?
By BillyBatson on 12/20/2012 4:11:52 PM , Rating: 2
You're such a cool guy.

RE: Resistivity?
By Dr of crap on 12/20/2012 7:50:41 AM , Rating: 2
They didn't say that the wire won't break at such places as you state. Only that the wires will now strech so that if you got it hooked on something, they might not be destroyed.

Fatigue of the metal at wear/stress points is still the biggest problem I'd say.

By Khenglish on 12/20/2012 1:18:30 AM , Rating: 3
I just want ear/headphone cables that my stupid dog can't chew through.

RE: dogs
By MadMan007 on 12/20/2012 5:35:38 AM , Rating: 3
With these, it would only chew through them once!

RE: dogs
By Denithor on 12/20/2012 10:06:40 AM , Rating: 3
...and then you'd need a new dog.

If the metal is liquid...
By FastEddieLB on 12/20/2012 5:39:11 AM , Rating: 2
...does that mean it can't short out from metal fatigue?

fix leaking
By dgingerich on 12/20/2012 1:03:01 PM , Rating: 2
To fix the leaking, the can add concentric ribbing (ribs around the inside of the tubing going around the tube, not the length of it) at spaces of about 1mm. Some will still leak a little, but the ribbing should keep the air from getting in and allowing all of the liquid to leak out. With that ribbing, the only way most of the liquid would leak out would be if someone were intentionally milking it.

Liquid metal? Nah...
By BugblatterIII on 12/19/2012 10:30:08 PM , Rating: 1
...just make the metal inside coiled like a spring. That way it'll still stretch but it won't leak out when the wire's cut.

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