We disclosed the interiorly driven macroscopic Brownian motion behavior of self-powered liquid metal motors. Such tiny motors in millimeter scale move randomly at a velocity magnitude of centimeters per second in aqueous alkaline solution, well resembling the classical Brownian motion. However, unlike the existing phenomena, where the particle motions were caused by collisions from the surrounding molecules, the current random liquid metal motions are internally enabled and self-powered, along with the colliding among neighboring motors, the substrate and the surrounding electrolyte molecules. Through uniformly dissolving only 1 % (mass percentage) Al into GaIn10, many tiny motors can be quickly fabricated and activated to take the Brownian-like random motions. Further, we introduced an experimental approach of using optical image contrast, which works just like the Wilson cloud chamber, to distinctively indicate the motor trajectory resulted from the generated hydrogen gas stream. A series of unusual complicated multi-phase fluid mechanics phenomena were observed. It was also identified that the main driving factor of the motors comes from the H2 bubbles generated at the bottom of these tiny motors, which is different from the large size self-fueled liquid metal machine. Several typical mechanisms for such unconventional Brownian-like motion phenomena were preliminarily interpreted.
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This work was supported by Research Funding of Chinese Academy of Sciences and partially by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (51376102).
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Bin Yuan and Sicong Tan contributed equally to this work.
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Yuan, B., Tan, S., Zhou, Y. et al. Self-powered macroscopic Brownian motion of spontaneously running liquid metal motors. Sci. Bull. 60, 1203–1210 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11434-015-0836-6
- Self-powered Brownian motion
- Liquid metal motor
- Al–Ga–In alloy
- Bubble repulsion
- Optical image contrast