Soft shape-programmable surfaces by fast electromagnetic actuation of liquid metal networks

Xinchen Ni, Haiwen Luan, Jin Tae Kim, Sam I. Rogge, Yun Bai, Jean Won Kwak, Shangliangzi Liu, Da Som Yang, Shuo Li, Shupeng Li, Zhengwei Li, Yamin Zhang, Changsheng Wu, Xiaoyue Ni*, Yonggang Huang*, Heling Wang*, John A. Rogers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Low modulus materials that can shape-morph into different three-dimensional (3D) configurations in response to external stimuli have wide-ranging applications in flexible/stretchable electronics, surgical instruments, soft machines and soft robotics. This paper reports a shape-programmable system that exploits liquid metal microfluidic networks embedded in an elastomer matrix, with electromagnetic forms of actuation, to achieve a unique set of properties. Specifically, this materials structure is capable of fast, continuous morphing into a diverse set of continuous, complex 3D surfaces starting from a two-dimensional (2D) planar configuration, with fully reversible operation. Computational, multi-physics modeling methods and advanced 3D imaging techniques enable rapid, real-time transformations between target shapes. The liquid-solid phase transition of the liquid metal allows for shape fixation and reprogramming on demand. An unusual vibration insensitive, dynamic 3D display screen serves as an application example of this type of morphable surface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5576
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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