What is it about?
Liquid streams emerging from a nozzle breakup rapidly into droplets due to Rayleigh-Plateau instabilities driven by surface tension. Liquid metals have enormous surface tension yet can be coerced into stable cylindrical streams by applying an oxidizing potential to the metal as it is injected into an electrolyte at low velocities. The interfacial tension of a microfluidic stream of liquid metal can be manipulated electrochemically in real time to produce a range of morphologies, including droplets, fine (100 μm diameter) wires, and rough shapes. The liquid wires can flow and bend without breaking over long distances.
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Why is it important?
This phenomenon enables new approaches for production of metallic structures at room temperature, on-demand fluid-in-fluid structuring, and new tools for studying and controlling fluid behavior. In particular, liquid metals are promising for soft and stretchable electronics and composites.
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This page is a summary of: Overcoming Rayleigh–Plateau instabilities: Stabilizing and destabilizing liquid-metal streams via electrochemical oxidation, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, July 2020, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2006122117.
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