Yale's liquid metal material can shed light on magnetic fields

Scientists can also use it to recreate other phenomena seen in planets and stars.

We most likely won't reach the center of the Earth in this lifetime, but scientists might be able to recreate it with the help of Yale's new liquid metal material. Researchers from the university have created a substance made of various particles suspended in indium and gallium (eGaIn) alloy. It flows just like the liquid metal that surrounds our planet's solid inner core, and it also generates magnetic fields when it does. Since its ability to generate magnetic fields is five times stronger than pure liquid metals', scientists can use it in the lab to study the cores of planets and stars.

According to the team, it could especially be useful in the study of magnetic pole reversal, a phenomenon that happens every thousands or hundreds of thousands of years. When the north and the south pole flips during the event, our planet's magnetic field stops working, exposing it to deadly radiation. That's why scientists think it could be linked to mass extinction.

Yale's material gives researchers a way to create a tiny Earth as small as 20 square centimeters inside the lab if they want to look more closely into geomagnetic flips. Previous attempts required the use of volatile liquid sodium in large chambers. Eric Brown, the study's lead author, says the material can potentially be used to recreate other phenomena seen in planets and stars, as well.