Liquid metal makes stretchable wires

North Carolina State University has created a liquid-metal cable that can stretch to eight times its size.

North Carolina State University (NCSU) has created a liquid-metal cable that can stretch to eight times its size.

The wire in action. (Credit: Dr Michael Dickey/NCSU)

The stretchable wire is a very simple and clever concept: take an elastic polymer casing and fill it with gallium-indium alloy liquid metal. When the wire is pulled, the metal flows to continue the electrical contact.

The great benefit from these cables is that they're surprisingly cheap and simple to make. There's only one real worry — how to stop the metal guts from flowing everywhere if the casing ruptures.

So what can we expect to see the wires used in? Well, according to NCSU, "The wires can be used for everything from headphones to phone chargers, and hold potential for use in electronic textiles." High-tech clothing? We like the sound of that one.

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