Metallic Glue Can Bind Metals Without Heat

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metallic glue
Professor Hanchen Huang

Nanotechnology scientists have developed a metallic glue that can bind metals together at room temperature.

MesoGlue can bind metals to other surfaces without soldering or pressure. It could potentially change the landscape of electronics.

EurekAlert reports:

“MesoGlue was founded by Huang and two of his PhD stu­dents: They had a dream of a better way of sticking things together.”

Those “things” are every­thing from a computer’s cen­tral pro­cessing unit and a printed cir­cuit board to the glass and metal fil­a­ment in a light bulb. The “way” of attaching them is, aston­ish­ingly, a glue made out of metal that sets at room tem­per­a­ture and requires very little pres­sure to seal. “It’s like welding or sol­dering but without the heat,” says Huang, who is pro­fessor and chair in the Depart­ment of Mechan­ical and Indus­trial Engineering.metallic glue

In a new paper, pub­lished in the Jan­uary issue of Advanced Mate­rials & Processes, Huang and col­leagues, including North­eastern doc­toral stu­dent Paul Elliott, describe their latest advances in the glue’s devel­op­ment. Our curiosity was piqued: Sol­dering with no heat? We asked Huang to elaborate.

On new devel­op­ments in the com­po­si­tion of the metallic glue:

“Both ‘metal’ and ‘glue’ are familiar terms to most people, but their com­bi­na­tion is new and made pos­sible by unique prop­er­ties of metallic nanorods–infinitesimally small rods with metal cores that we have coated with the ele­ment indium on one side and galium on the other. These coated rods are arranged along a sub­strate like angled teeth on a comb: There is a bottom ‘comb’ and a top ‘comb.’ We then inter­lace the ‘teeth.’ When indium and galium touch each other, they form a liquid. The metal core of the rods acts to turn that liquid into a solid. The resulting glue pro­vides the strength and thermal/?electrical con­duc­tance of a metal bond. We recently received a new pro­vi­sional patent for this devel­op­ment through North­eastern University.”

On the spe­cial prop­er­ties of the metallic glue:

“The stan­dard polymer glue does not func­tion at high tem­per­a­tures or high pres­sures, but the metallic glue does. The stan­dard glue is not a great con­ductor of heat and/?or elec­tricity, but the metallic glue is. Fur­ther­more, the stan­dard glue is not very resis­tant to air or gas leaks, but the metallic glue is.

“‘Hot’ processes like sol­dering and welding can result in metallic con­nec­tions that are sim­ilar to those pro­duced with the metallic glue, but they cost much more. In addi­tion, the high tem­per­a­ture nec­es­sary for these processes has dele­te­rious effects on neigh­boring com­po­nents, such as junc­tions in semi­con­ductor devices. Such effects can speed up failure and not only increase cost but also prove dan­gerous to users.”

What are some appli­ca­tions of the technology?

“The metallic glue has mul­tiple appli­ca­tions, many of them in the elec­tronics industry. As a heat con­ductor, it may replace the thermal grease cur­rently being used, and as an elec­trical con­ductor, it may replace today’s sol­ders. Par­tic­ular prod­ucts include solar cells, pipe fit­tings, and com­po­nents for com­puters and mobile devices.”

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Edmondo Burr
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