While the high-tech devices of our time are certainly a little more shatter-proof and water-proof than the ones of, say, a decade ago, at their core they’re still kind of fragile.
If you knock the insides around in the wrong way, they’ll break, and your expensive tech item transforms into a paperweight with a charging port.
But there’s a solution: “soft electronics” that can not only keep working when they’re damaged, they can essentially heal themselves.
This comes from a research team at Virginia Tech, and instead of building a device around hard solid materials and wires, they use electronic composites and small droplets of what they call liquid metal.
Yes, “Terminator 2” fans, liquid metal.
That means that if someone poked a hole into the circuit, the droplets would just work around the hole, reconnecting to each other to keep electricity flowing.
Plus, the composites are extremely stretchy, which is good news for developing new kinds of wearable devices, and they’re recyclable, which is good news as the tech industry tries to get greener.
I suppose the only ones who might not be thrilled about this are the companies who make those thick cases to keep our phones and tablets safe for those of us who keep dropping them.
A project from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Caltech has been using high-altitude balloons to measure seismic activity.
Earth, of course, already has plenty of sensitive earthquake detectors, so this is meant for a future mission on the planet Venus, where the heat and pressure make landing a traditional craft iffy.
Isn’t it wild to think there may be Venusquake-detecting balloons?
Unbroken: New soft electronics don’t break, even when punctured (Virginia Tech)
Screenshot from Virginia Tech video on the circuit