Friday, January 7, 2011

Liquid Metal

I came across this article today about Apple's latest patent involving liquid metal. What is liquid metal, and what does it have to do with Apple? Liquid metal is an amorphous metal alloy. It is not actually a liquid (at least not at room temperature - I'm sure it can be melted).
The atomic structure of ordinary or conventional metals and alloys is periodic, where the layout of atomic elements shows repeating patterns over an extended range. This atomic structure is called "crystalline" and limits the overall performance of conventional metals.

Liquidmetal alloys possess an "amorphous" atomic structure, which is truly unique. By contrast to the crystalline structure, no discernable patterns exist in the atomic structure of the unique Liquidmetal alloys. As such, properties superior to the limits of conventional metals can be achieved.
Of course, there are many liquid metals alloys possible, and they have different characteristics. Apple currently uses liquid metal for the little "key" that technicians use to eject the SIM card from iPhones. Not very exciting, compared to some of the other applications listed on the web site.

However, this new patent is for a liquid metal current collector plate, believed to be part of a project to develop fuel cell powered mobile devices. If this technology can be brought to market, it promises lightweight power sources capable or powering a phone for a month between recharges.


Post a Comment