Printable Liquid Metal Foams That Grow When Watered

Febby Krisnadi, Seoyeon Kim, Sooik Im, Dennis Chacko, Man Hou Vong, Konrad Rykaczewski, Sungjune Park, Michael D. Dickey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Pastes and “foams” containing liquid metal (LM) as the continuous phase (liquid metal foams, LMFs) exhibit metallic properties while displaying paste or putty-like rheological behavior. These properties enable LMFs to be patterned into soft and stretchable electrical and thermal conductors through processes conducted at room temperature, such as printing. The simplest LMFs, featured in this work, are made by stirring LM in air, thereby entraining oxide-lined air “pockets” into the LM. Here, it is reported that mixing small amounts of water (as low as 1 wt%) into such LMFs gives rise to significant foaming by harnessing known reactions that evolve hydrogen and produce oxides. The resulting structures can be ≈4–5× their original volume and possess a fascinating combination of attributes: porosity, electrical conductivity, and responsiveness to environmental conditions. This expansion can be utilized for a type of 4D printing in which patterned conductors “grow,” fill cavities, and change shape and density with respect to time. Excessive exposure to water in the long term ultimately consumes the metal in the LMF. However, when exposure to water is controlled, the metallic properties of porous LMFs can be preserved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAdvanced Materials
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • direct writing
  • foaming
  • growing conductor
  • liquid metal
  • porous composite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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