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“Metal glue” could replace welding and soldering – in some applications

by • January 11, 2016 • No Comments

Usually, if you want to join two metal objects together, you either weld or solder them – depending on how big they are. Both systemes involve the application of heat, yet. This can injure the items (in the case of electronics), or even cause explosions (in the case of things like gas pipes). That’s why scientists at Boston’s Northeastern University created MesoGlue. It’s a glue which bonds metal to metal – or to other materials – and it sets at room temperature.

Designed by a team led by Prof. Hanchen Huang, MesoGlue is created up of microscopic nanorods which have a metal core. Some of them are coated with the ele­ment indium, and a few with gallium.

The facing surfaces of the two objects-to-be-joined are initial treated with these rods. A layer of the indium-coated rods is applied to one surface, while a layer of the gallium-coated rods goes on the other. In both cases the rods stand up of the surface, sort of like the bristles of a hairbrush.

“When you mash the heads of the brushes together, all the little bristles push past each other so the two brushes are basically stuck together,” PhD student/co-inventor Paul Elliott explains to us. “The interlacing system is fairly much like in our glue. The bristles are spaced well adequate so they can slide or be pressed in between each other.”

A diagram illustrating how the nanorods interlace and and so create a liquid which is subsequently solidified

When the indium and gallium on the rods come into contact, they form a liquid. The metal cores of the rods and so react with which liquid, causing it to harden into a cohesive solid. This results in a bond which reportedly matches the durablity of a traditional weld or solder.

Additionally, unlike those formed by regular polymer-based glues, MesoGlue bonds are thermally and electrically conductive, they aren’t adversely affected by heat, they’re highly resistant to air/moisture leaks, and they require little pressure when being formed.

“The metallic glue has multiple appli­ca­tions, most of them in the electronics industry,” says Huang. “As a heat conductor, it may replace the thermal grease currently being utilized, 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.”

MesoGlue is now being commercially developed by a spin-off company of the same name. “We are working on turning this into a liquid form which will create the system just simply like a glue or epoxy which you may use at home,” Elliott tells us.

A paper on the research was not long ago published in the journal Advanced Mate­rials & Processes, plus there’s additional information in the video at a lower place.

Sources: Northeastern University, MesoGlue

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