Pulling a Fast One: Stretchy Cables Filled With Liquid Metal

stretchable cables

It seems like every time we try to plug in a phone charger, the cable is just short enough that the phone can’t be comfortably used while it’s charging. On the other hand, earbud cables always seem to be ridiculously long. Researchers at North Carolina State University have come up with a totally brilliant (and quite futuristic) solution for too-short and too-long cables: cables that can stretch up to eight times their original length and then snap right back to their starting length.

The revolutionary cables are made up of two layers: a gallium/indium alloy in the middle and a stretchy elastic polymer on the outside. The interior alloy is a very efficient electrical conductor which happens to be a liquid at room temperature. It’s able to change shape and length without losing conductivity. The only puzzle still facing the researchers at this point is how to keep the liquid metal from causing a nasty and dangerous mess if the elastic cable exterior ever happens to break.

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See more in New Materials or under Science. December, 2012.