Interactions between Liquid Metal Droplets and Bacterial, Fungal, and Mammalian Cells

Samuel Cheeseman, Aaron Elbourne, Sheeana Gangadoo, Z. L. Shaw, Saffron J. Bryant, Nitu Syed, Michael D. Dickey, Michael J. Higgins, Krasimir Vasilev, Chris F. McConville, Andrew J. Christofferson, Russell J. Crawford, Torben Daeneke, James Chapman, Vi Khanh Truong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Liquid metals (LMs) have emerged as novel materials for biomedical applications. Here, the interactions taking place between cells and LMs are reported, presenting a unique opportunity to explore and understand the LM-biological interface. Several high-resolution imaging techniques are used to characterize the interaction between droplets of gallium LM and bacterial, fungal, and mammalian cells. Adhesive interactions between cells and LM droplets are observed, causing deformation of the LM droplet surface, resulting in surface wrinkling and in some cases, breakage of the native oxide layer present on the LM droplet surface. In many instances, the cell wall deforms to intimately contact the LM droplets. Single-cell force spectroscopy is performed to quantify the adhesion forces between cells and LM and characterize the nature of the adhesion. It is proposed that the flexible nature of the cell enables multiple adhesion sites with the LM droplets, imparting tensile forces on the LM droplet surface, which results in surface wrinkling on the LM droplets due to their liquid nature. Molecular dynamics simulations also suggest that flexible biomolecules on the cell surface can disrupt the Ga2O3 layer formed at the LM droplet surface. This study reveals a unique biointerfacial interaction and provides insights into the mechanisms involved.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2102113
Number of pages14
JournalAdvanced Materials Interfaces
Issue number7
Early online date31 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • liquid metals
  • biomedical applications
  • bacterial cells
  • fungal cells
  • mammalian cells
  • gallium
  • Ga2O3
  • biointerfacial interaction
  • cell interactions
  • cells
  • liquid metal
  • biointerface


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