Modelling and motion control of a liquid metal droplet in a fluidic channel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Jie Xie
  • Fangxia Li
  • Shaolong Kuang
  • Hao Yang
  • Xiangpeng Li
  • Weihua Li
  • Shiwu Zhang

Colleges, School and Institutes


As an emerging multifunctional material, Gallium-based room temperature liquid metal has attracted a lot of attention for a variety of applications due to its mobility and deformability. However, controlling the motion of a liquid metal droplet accurately still remains unrevealed, which restricts its application in many fields. In this article, we propose a hybrid framework that would control the motion of a liquid metal droplet in a one-dimensional (1-D) fluidic channel. A dynamic model of a liquid metal droplet immersed in the electrolyte when an electrical field is applied to each end of the channel is discussed first, followed by a setpoint controller designed to calculate the current input needed to drive the liquid metal droplet to its destination with vision feedback. To obtain the desired high-resolution current output, a fast and high-resolution current output power supply will be established by integrating a fast PID controller and a simple programmable dc power supply. The effectiveness of this proposed approach will be verified by controlling a liquid metal droplet so that it reaches its destination inside the polymethyl methacrylate channel. In this article, the proposed approach may lead to the development of tiny soft robots, or microfluidic systems that can be driven accurately by the liquid metal droplets.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)942-950
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics
Issue number2
Early online date6 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • Dynamic model, liquid metal droplets, setpoint control, soft robotics, surface tension