An international team of researchers has developed a technique using liquid metal to create an elastic material impervious to both gases and liquids. The material could be important in packaging high-value technologies that require protection from gases, such as flexible batteries.
The new technique uses a eutectic (the alloy has a melting point lower than its constituent parts alloy of gallium and indium), EGaIn. The researchers created a thin film of EGaIn and encased it in an elastic polymer. The interior surface of the polymer was studded with microscale glass beads, preventing the liquid film of EGaIn from pooling. A flexible bag or sheath lined with liquid metal will not allow gases or liquids in or out.
They found no measurable loss of either liquid or oxygen for the new material. While the liquid metals are expensive, the team plans to optimize the technique, reducing its cost.
The paper, “Liquid Metal-Based Soft and Hermetic Seals for Stretchable Systems,” will be published in the journal Science.