This paper reviews the material properties, fabrication and functionalities of liquid metal-based devices. In modern wireless communication technology, adaptability and versatility have become attractive features of any communication device. Compared with traditional conductors such as copper, the flow characteristics and lack of elastic limit of conductive fluids make them ideal alternatives for applications such as flexible circuits, soft electronic devices, wearable stretch sensors, and reconfigurable antennas. These fluid properties also allow for innovative manufacturing techniques such as 3-D printing, injecting or spraying conductive fluids on rigid/flexible substrates. Compared with traditional high-frequency switching methods, liquid metal (LM) can easily use micropumps or an electrochemically controlled capillary method to achieve reconfigurability of the device. The movement of LM over a large physical dimension enhances the reconfigurable state of the antenna, without depending on nonlinear materials or mechanisms. When LM is applied to wearable devices and sensors such as electronic skins (e-skins) and strain sensors, it consistently exhibits mechanical fatigue resistance and can maintain good electrical stability under a certain degree of stretching. When LM is used in microwave devices and paired with elastic linings such as polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), the shape and size of the devices can be changed according to actual needs to meet the requirements of flexibility and a multistate frequency band. In this work, we discuss the material properties, fabrication and functionalities of LM.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.