In the film Terminator 2, the T-1000 was made from a liquid metal that could change into any shape it wanted. Although this may seem far-fetched for a real robot, researchers think they have a found a way to manipulate liquid metal, achieving the beginnings of what we see in the film.
Normally liquid metal is associated with the toxic element mercury, which means it is a definite no-no for making a robot out of it. However Lei Sheng, Jie Zhang and Jing Liu at the Tsinghua University in Beijing have employed the use of a gallium-indium-selenium alloy, which at room temperature exists in a liquid state. It has a melting point of only 50 degrees fahrenheit.
The research team were able to move the alloy around in its liquid form by putting it in water and applying voltage.By controlling the direction and intensity of the current, they successfully produced tiny liquid metal spheres on the surface of a water droplet. These metal droplets could then be moved or even merged with other droplets by changing the voltage source to different locations.
With further study the researchers hope to discover what conditions and voltages produce which shapes and movements. With this information it would then be possible to create simple machines and because the gallium-indium-selenium alloy is bioneutral, any machine created could be applied in a medical situation.
We are still a long way off the T-1000 but the technology is one step closer at least.