Liquidmetal allows headphone wires to be stretched 8x their original length

By , Dec 19, 2012

A lot has been said about Apple’s exclusive multi-year license for Liquidmetal, an amorphous Terminator-like alloy made from zirconium, titanium, nickel, copper and other materials. Liquidmetal is stronger, smoother and more corrosion-resistant than aluminum, but Apple is not expected to deploy it across its products until 2017.

In the meantime, here’s a nice example of how the alloy might pave the way for new industrial designs. What you see in the above clip are conductive wires that can be stretched up to eight times their original length while still functioning, thanks to Liquidmetal that’s twice as strong as Titanium and possesses the processability of plastics…

What’s best, Liquidmetal wires can be produced on a mass scale without having to develop new manufacturing processes.

The only downer: the alloy will leak out if you break the cable.

Engadget explains:

The method fills an elastic polymer tube with a liquid gallium and indium alloy that delivers the electricity. By keeping the materials separate, unlike many past attempts, the solution promises the best of both worlds: the conduction we need, and the tolerance for tugs that we want.

These wires can be used for everything from headphones to phone chargers and hold potential for use in electronic textiles, according to researchers from North Carolina State University who published their work in a paper titled “Ultrastretchable Fibers with Metallic Conductivity Using a Liquid Metal Alloy Core” and published online in Advanced Functional Materials.

Liquidmetal headphones
The tube is filled with Liquidmetal and can be stretched up to 8x its original length.

Paper co-author Dr. Michael Dickey was quoted in a media release:

“Increasing the amount of metal improves the conductivity of the composite, but diminishes its elasticity,” Dickey says. “Our approach keeps the materials separate, so you have maximum conductivity without impairing elasticity.

In short, our wires are orders of magnitude more stretchable than the most conductive wires, and at least an order of magnitude more conductive than the most stretchable wires currently in the literature.”

Of course, Apple is expected to use Liquidmetal in a big way because the company holds an exclusive worldwide license to use the alloy in consumer electronics products.

The only time Apple used Liquidmetal in a product was the SIM ejector tool that shipped with the iPhone 3GS.

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  • wonderboydave

    must be slow day huh IDB

    • Jonathan

      No this is amazing news. Not just headphones but like the mess of cables I have behind my TV. If they all just stretched to exactly the right size then it would be more manageable.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kooolaj Anuj Mali

    Nice

  • notewar

    And how do you shrink it back -_-a

    • http://www.facebook.com/antman217 Anthony Antunez

      Did you even watch the video?! It clearly shows that the metal doesn’t stay stretched out, it’s like a rubber band. -___-

  • http://www.facebook.com/dany.quirion Dany Quirion

    USELESS

  • MagicDrumSticks

    WIRE PORN

  • jose castro

    Boring

  • DISQUIS

    Can you guys SHUT UP complaining about IDB articles!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Antonio-Gzz/100001847768813 Antonio Gzz

    good news for robotic arms technology
    and another tools like that.

  • jorith

    Bit off-topic, that sim clip, used to look nice, and finished, with my dads new ipad, not so much, have seen better looking paperclips!!

  • iDevizes

    Looks handy but if i use Eapods or so i don’t want it to strech back like a rubber… Is it possible to freeze the status of the wire? Else t won’t work till a certain lenght.

  • http://www.facebook.com/TheOnePoint0 Cameron Weatherspoon

    but if the phone is in your pocket and the headphones are in your ear would it stay stretched without pulling out of you ear or have a tugging filling?