Liquid metal technology. That's Terminator 2 stuff, right? Well you better start running now, John Connor, because it's here. A new, flexible, conductive nano-coating lets liquid metal keep its form by transforming under high pressure and then springing right back.
Granted, it's not like anyone will be using this tech to form galinstan — an alloy of gallium, indium and tin that's liquid at room temperature — into any sort of rigid, usable tools (or robots), but the coating, developed by researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, will let drops of the liquid metal retain their shapes like robust water balloons. Robust water balloons full of metal. Not only do the "marbles" sort of bounce, but they can be sliced, merged and even suspended on water — all while retaining their semi-conductive properties.
The applications for this sort of tech — beyond just doing stuff that just looks cool — could be anything from extendible antennae to super flexible wires. Use cases where you need metal, but not its characteristic rigidity. Because this sort of coating is in its early stages though, there's no telling whether or not it'll be possible to produce little galinstan pellets like this at anything resembling a reasonable cost, or that the coated metal will last long enough to be worth using — for Terminators or otherwise. [PhysOrg]