3D-Printing Free-Standing Liquid Metals at Room Temperature

North Carolina State University researchers have developed a way to print liquid metals into 3D structures at room temperature. The free-standing structures are stabilized by a thin oxide 'skin' that forms on the liquid metal. The researchers developed multiple techniques for creating these structures, which can be used to connect electronic components in three dimensions. While it is relatively straightforward to pattern the metal 'in plane' – meaning all on the same level – these liquid metal structures can also form shapes that reach up or down. The researchers also developed techniques for creating liquid metal wires, which retain their shape even when held perpendicular to the substrate.