2023 journal article

Compositional Design of Surface Oxides in Gallium–Indium Alloys

Chemistry of Materials.

co-author countries: Australia 🇦🇺 United States of America 🇺🇸
Source: ORCID
Added: January 12, 2023

Room-temperature liquid metal alloys encompass a highly versatile family of materials possessing a unique set of chemical, electronic, biological, and mechanical properties. The surface oxide of liquid metals has a direct influence on these properties and is often composed of one of the major alloy components (i.e., gallium or indium). However, this is not a foregone conclusion, as the identity of the surface oxide can be altered by the addition of minority elements into the liquid metal. Through judicious choice of a minority alloying metal, the composition of the oxide and therefore the resulting molten alloy’s properties are significantly modified. We demonstrate this by adding a small amount (∼5%) of several thermodynamically favorable alloying elements (X = Zn, Mg, Al) to eutectic gallium indium (EGaIn), resulting in a new class of alloys with designed surface oxide compositions that we term XGaIn. Using both STEM-EDS and XPS, XGaIn alloys are shown to form oxide layers enriched in the lowest-redox element as expected based on the thermodynamics of the alloy system. This approach is shown to be generalizable across both Ga and non-Ga-based liquid metal alloy compositions. XGaIn alloys with added Zn and Mg are shown to have strong antimicrobial activity, which has exciting implications for the development of flexible electronic medical devices and sensors.