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Frontiers in Energy

Front. Energy    2020, Vol. 14 Issue (1) : 81-104
Room temperature liquid metal: its melting point, dominating mechanism and applications
Junheng FU1, Chenglin ZHANG1, Tianying LIU2, Jing LIU3()
1. CAS Key Laboratory of Cryogenics, Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences Beijing 100190, China; School of Future Technology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences Beijing 100049, China; Beijing Key Laboratory of Cryo-Biomedical Engineering, Beijing 100190, China
2. CAS Key Laboratory of Cryogenics, Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China; School of Engineering Science, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences Beijing 100049, China; Beijing Key Laboratory of Cryo-Biomedical Engineering, Beijing 100190, China
3. CAS Key Laboratory of Cryogenics, Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China; School of Future Technology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China; Beijing Key Laboratory of Cryo-Biomedical Engineering, Beijing 100190, China; Department of Biomedical Engineering, School of Medicine, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
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The room temperature liquid metal (LM) is recently emerging as a new class of versatile materials with fascinating characteristics mostly originated from its simultaneous metallic and liquid natures. The melting point is a typical parameter to describe the peculiarity of LM, and a pivotal factor to consider concerning its practical applications such as phase change materials (PCMs) and advanced thermal management. Therefore, the theoretical exploration into the melting point of LM is an essential issue, which can be of special value for the design of new LM materials with desired properties. So far, some available strategies such as molecular dynamics (MD) simulation and classical thermodynamic theory have been applied to perform correlative analysis. This paper is primarily dedicated to performing a comprehensive overview regarding typical theoretical strategies on analyzing the melting points. It, then, presents evaluations on several factors like components, pressure, size and supercooling that may be critical for melting processes of liquid metal. After that, it discusses applications associated with the characteristic of low melting points of LM. It is expected that a great many fundamental and practical works are to be conducted in the coming future.

Keywords melting point      liquid metal      crystal      thermodynamics      molecular dynamics     
Corresponding Author(s): Jing LIU   
Online First Date: 19 December 2019    Issue Date: 16 March 2020
 Cite this article:   
Junheng FU,Chenglin ZHANG,Tianying LIU, et al. Room temperature liquid metal: its melting point, dominating mechanism and applications[J]. Front. Energy, 2020, 14(1): 81-104.
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Chenglin ZHANG
Tianying LIU
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Fig.1  Typical applications of low melting-point liquid metal.
Fig.2  Typical schematics about Gibbs free energy, chemical potential and phase diagrams (adapted with permission from Ref. [60]).
Fig.3  Molecular dynamic simulation results judged by various criteria.
Fig.4  Illustrations of melting process for mercury.

(a) Differences in electron distribution between gold (Au) and mercury (Hg) (adapted with permission from Ref. [76]); (b) and (c) relativistic effects on the melting process of mercury clusters (adapted with permission from Ref. [77]).

Fig.5  Structural factors, binomial distribution functions, and cluster models for Ga-In alloys (adapted with permission from Ref. [96]).
Fig.6  DSC curves of Ga, EGaIn, Galinstan, and GaInSnZn alloys (adapted with permission from Ref. [98]).
Fig.7  Phase diagrams.
Alloy/(w.t%) Melting point Tm/°C Latent heat L/(kJ·kg−1) Type
In25.2Sn17.3Bi57.5 80.70 32.47 Eutectic
In51.34Sn5.56Bi33.1 60.42 24.34 Eutectic
In4Sn40Bi56 101.13 3.87 Near-eutectic
Sn22Bi50Pb28 97.06 17.55 Near-eutectic
Sn22Bi52.5Pb32 96.84 21.64 Near-eutectic
Sn26Bi53Cd21 92.55 2.52 Near-eutectic
Bi51.6Cd8.2Pb40.2 92.97 26.66 Eutectic
Sn51.2Cd30.6Pb18.2 144.99 40.6 Near-eutectic
In10.5Sn19Bi53.5Pb17 60.66-76.18 16.91 Not eutectic
In21Sn12Bi49Pb18 59.73 27.07 Eutectic
Sn13.3Bi50Cd10Pb26.7 72.14 30.35 Eutectic
Tab.1  Composition, latent heat, and melting point of multi-component liquid alloys [49]
Fig.8  Structure of a commercial reusable heat pack (Solid crystals can easily be trapped at the contact junction with high pressure.)
Fig.9  Melting curves of gallium, indium, thallium, and aluminum (It can be seen that the melting point increases with the increase of pressure except for gallium.) (adapted with permission from Ref. [105]).
Fig.10  Phase transition state and structure of gallium.
Phase Crystal system α/Å b c Ref.
α-Ga Orthogonal 4.523 4.524 7.661 [108]
Ga II (2.6 GPa, 313 K) Cubic 5.951±0.005 [106]
Ga III (2.8 GPa, 298 K) Tetragonal 2.813±0.003 4.452±0.005 [106]
Tab.2  Comparison of α-Ga, Ga II, and Ga III [101]
Phase Melting point /°C DH/(kJ·kg–1) Crystal system Lattice parameters
a b c Angle
α-Ga 29.78 80.0 Orthorhombic 4.523 4.524 7.661
β-Ga -16.30 38.0 Monoclinic 2.766 3.332 8.053 b = 92.03°
γ-Ga -35.60 34.9 Orthorhombic 5.203 10.593 13.523
δ-Ga -19.40 37.0 Rhombohedral 7.729 a = 72.02°
Tab.3  Comparison of α-Ga, β-Ga, γ-Ga, and δ-Ga (at atmospheric pressure) [101]
Fig.11  Characteristic DSC curves of bulk gallium and gallium particles.
Nanosolid N/n
Spherical nanosolids 4d/D
Disk-like nanosolids (4/3)d(1/H + 2/D)
Nanowires (8/3)d/D
Nanofilms (4/3)d/H
Tab.4  Calculated N/n for different nanosolids [110]
Fig.12  Comparison of the theory and experiment for Sn and Pb nanoparticles (adapted with permission from Ref. [110]).
Fig.13  Effect of binding energy and size on the melting point of nanoparticles (adapted with permission from Ref. [112]).
Nanosolid Molar surface area
Spherical nanoparticles A(T)=(6/D)V (T)
Regular tetrahedral nanoparticles A(T)=( 66/D)V (T)
Regular icosahedral nanoparticles A(T)=[ 93315/D]V(T)
Cylindrical nanowires A(T)=(4/D)V (T)
Nanofilms A(T)=(2/H)V (T)
Tab.5  Molar surface area of different nanosolids [112]
Fig.14  Relationship between the volume free energy, interface energy and the radius of the crystal.
Liquid Tm/K s/(10−3J·m−2) DHf/(103J·kg−1) r/(103kg·m−3) DTmax/K
Gallium 303 55.9 80.00 5.92 76.00
Mercury 234.3 24.4 11.42 13.534 58.00
Bismuth 544 54.4 54.07 10.05 90.00
Water 273.2 32.1 334.00 0.9167 25.00
Tab.6  Thermodynamic parameters of typical liquids [100]
Fig.15  Critical parameters for nucleation of typical liquids at different temperatures.
Fig.16  Examples and property contrast of three common types of PCMs (adapted with permission from Ref. [115]).
Fig.17  Temperature responses of different thermal materials.
Metallic PCMs Melting point Tm/°C Enthalpy of fusion DH/(kJ·kg−1) Density
Specific heat capacity cp/(J·kg−1·°C−1) Thermal conductivity k/(W·m−1·°C−1)
Hg -38.87 11.4 13546(l) 0.139(l) 8.34(l)
Cs 28.65 16.4 1796(l) 0.236(l) 17.4(l)
Ga [94] 29.78 80.16 5904(s)/6095(l) 372.3(s)/397.6(l) 33.49(s)/33.68(l)
Rb 38.85 25.74 1470 0.363 29.3
Bi44.7Pb22.6In19.1Sn8.3Cd5.3 47 36.8 9160 0.197 15
Bi49In21Pb18Sn12[118] 58.2 23.4 9307(s) 0.213(s)/0.211(l) 7.143(s)/10.1(l)
Bi31.6In48.8Sn19.6[119] 60.2 27.9 8043 0.270(s)/0.297(l) 19.2(s)/14.5(l)
K 63.2 59.59 664 0.78 54
Bi50Pb26.7Sn13.3Cd10 70 39.8 9580 0.184 18
Bi52Pb30Sn18 96 34.7 9600 0.167 24
Na 97.83 113.23 926.9(l) 1.38(l) 86.9(l)
Bi58Sn42 138 44.8 8560 0.201 44.8
In 156.8 28.59 7030 0.23(l) 36.4(l)
Li 186 433.78 515(l) 4.389(l) 41.3
Sn91Zn9 199 32.5 7270 0.272 61
Sn 232 60.5 7300(s) 0.221 15.08(s)
Bi 271.4 53.5 9790 0.122 8.1
Zn52Mg48 340 180
Al59Mg35Zn6 443 310 2380 1.63(s)/1.46(l)
Al65Cu30Si5 571 422 2730 1.3(s)/1.2(l)
Zn49Cu45Mg6 703 176 8670 0.42(s)
Cu80Si20 803 197 6600 0.5(s)
Si56Mg44 946 757 1900 0.79(s)
Tab.7  Comparison of thermal parameters of different metallic PCMs [115]
Fig.18  High density heat production equipment and heat transfer efficiency (adapted with permission from Ref. [115]).
Fig.19  Different printing methods and printed patterns.
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