Purdue University Graduate School
ShanliangziLiu_Dissertation.pdf (96.43 MB)

Scalable Manufacturing of Liquid Metal for Soft and Stretchable Electronics

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posted on 2020-12-16, 18:32 authored by Shanliangzi LiuShanliangzi Liu
Next-generation soft robots, wearable health monitoring devices, and human-machine interfaces require electronic systems that can maintain their performance under deformations. Thus, researchers have been developing materials and methods to enable high-performance soft electronic systems in diverse applications. While a variety of solutions have been presented, development of stretchable materials with a combination of high stretchability, electrical conductivity, cyclic stability, and manufacturability is still an open challenge. Throughout this dissertation, gallium-based
liquid metal alloy is used as the conductive material, leveraging its high conductivity and intrinsic stretchability for maintained performance under deformations. This dissertation presents both new liquid metal-based conductive materials and scalable manufacturing methods for the development of a diverse range of flexible and stretchable electronic circuits. First, a laser sintering method was developed to coalesce liquid metal micro/nanoparticles into soft, conductive structures enabled by oxide rupturing. The fast, non-contact, and maskless laser sintering technique, in combination with large-area spray-printing deposition, and high-throughput emulsion processing, provided a methodology to create different physical manifestations of liquid metal-based soft, stretchable, and reconfigurable electronics. Second, a liquid metal-based biphasic material was created using a thermal processing technique, yielding a printable, mechanically stable, and extremely stretchable conductor. This material’s compatibility with existing scalable manufacturing methods, robust interfaces with off-the-shelf electronic components, and electrical/mechanical cyclic stability enabled direct conversion of established circuit board assemblies to stretchable forms. The work presented in this dissertation paves the way for future mass-manufacturing of
soft, stretchable circuits for direct integration into smart garments or soft robots.


National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Mechanical Engineering

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee co-chair

Marcial Gonzalez

Additional Committee Member 2

Kejie Zhao

Additional Committee Member 3

David H. Thompson

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