New discovery on liquid metal alloys may lead to high-efficiency electronics

The line belongs to Romance of the Three Kingdoms and to observe such a divergent-convergent pattern in liquefied metals, researchers dissolved small amounts of metals such as silver (Ag) in low-melting metals such as gallium (Ga), and investigated how metallic components interact and separate for formation of samples at solidification of metal liquid mixes (alloys).

They found that a single silver-gallium system can create different patterns, such as particles or beam-like structures of the Ag2Ga compound.

Above: A different surface pattern that propagates with a “pottery” meets a convergent pattern. Below: oscillating bifurcation patterns on the surface of the hardened Ag-Ga alloy. (Image courtesy of FLEET).

The individual Ag2Ga structures that create the samples are small, with a thickness of micrometers or nanometers, tens or hundreds of times thinner than human hair.

The strangest thing is that the team noticed that the samples are repeatedly divided and combined.

Pattern formation is a fundamental phenomenon in nature, and some types of patterns are more common than others. Among all the various patterns, the formation of different patterns or bifurcations is common, because this particular arrangement usually facilitates the conversion or distribution of energy.

Its analogue, convergent pattern growth, or reverse bifurcation, is less common because it contradicts energy-efficient bifurcation.

According to scientists, amazing cyclic divergent and convergent growth, called oscillatory bifurcation, is rare and has not been observed in curing structures prior to this new study.

Despite this, they observed oscillatory bifurcation patterns on the surface of several liquid alloys after curing, suggesting that such non-intuitive behavior is quite common for curing patterns formed on the surface of liquid metals.

Similar to the dramatized novel, the team found that the instability of the liquid metal surface is also based on the instability of vibrational bifurcation patterns.

“Creating a surface image of liquid metal alloys is a new but exciting topic. The superficial or interfacial nature of the process allows us to better understand and control the fundamental phase transition and pattern formation, ”Jianbo Tang, the study’s lead author, said in a statement to the media.

“We will continue our work to develop crystalline surfaces and structures using liquid metals to incorporate advanced applications such as plasmon sensing, high-performance electronics and optics, and high-precision spectroscopy.”

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