Watch What Happens When Gallium Touches Aluminium

Not everyone is a materials expert, so when someone asks the question "What happens when metal X touches metal Y?", you don't have to feel bad when you don't know the answer. Except when it comes to gallium and aluminium, in which case you'll sound like some sort of SCIENCE WIZZARD (feel free to put that on a hat).

Of course, you'll have to watch the video above for the explanation — and rather fascinating visuals. It's a few years old now, but the clip from YouTube channel TAOFLEDERMAUS still does the job.

It starts with two drops of gallium on an upturned aluminium heatsink. Nothing happens for the first 30 minutes or so, but eventually the gallium is absorbed into the other metal. It then goes all T1000, making the surface almost liquid.

Finally, the heatsink becomes extraordinarily brittle, with the fins crumbling like an arrowroot biscuit.

Outside of the curiosity aspect, I can't say why you'd do this to a poor heatsink. If you do try it though, make sure to detach it from your computer first.

[YouTube, via Digg]


Comments

    Just looked it up in google and learned that mercury has the same effect but it an even more accelerated rate!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7Ilxsu-JlY

    Also just browsing wiki and I found out it expands when it solidifies (Gallium metal expands by 3.1% when it solidifies). For some reason I was taught growing up that only water did that.

    Last edited 19/03/16 3:33 pm

    Next thing you know, terrorists will use it on aircraft as a way to cause fatigue and ultimately explosive decompression.

      *knocks on your door *

      Hello, we're from ASIO. Do you have a few minutes for a chat about some things?

        they don't use the word ASIO, they say 'D' section of the DoD or such.
        I don't think they go in for much of the MiB stuff.

      This is why you can't take mercury thermometers on aircraft.

      Aluminium actually oxidises very rapidly, but quickly forms a protective Al-oxide layer that prevents further oxidation. So when you think of "aluminium", the material you are seeing is not actually the bare metal, but aluminium "rust".

      If you put Hg on aluminium then scratch the oxide layer under it, you will get a column of aluminium oxide form from the spot where the mercury was placed. It grows to a few centimeters high.

      Source: I used to teach chemistry to engineering students at university during the 90s.

    I'll have to carry some Gallium around with me in case someone locks me in a room with some Aluminium doors...

    Anyone know if there is a metal that causes this kind of effect on Steel?

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