Northeastern University researchers have developed a new type of glue that can bind metal components of different devices at room temperature using very little pressure.
The glue works on the unique properties of metallic nanorods and their interlocking features. “It’s like welding or soldering but without the heat,” said Hanchen Huang, the lead researcher and professor at the university’s mechanical and industrial engineering department.
The rods are tiny metallic cores coated on one side with indium and on the other with gallium. These rods are arranged along a substrate, like angled teeth on a comb. When gallium teeth meet indium teeth, they become liquid. But the metal core quickly turns that liquid back into a solid, creating a metal bond capable of conducting heat and electricity.
Unlike the standard glue, metallic glue works well even at high temperatures and pressures. It also possesses superior conductivity and is less prone to air and gas leaks.
The glue is also a good contender for soldering and welding process; as they are expensive and when used in semiconductor devices, the nearby components might be compromised.
“The metallic glue has multiple applications, many of them in the electronics industry,” Huang said. “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.”
The team has recently received a provisional patent through Northeastern University and has founded a company ‘MesoGlue’ for further advancing the technology.
Image Credits: Hanchen Huang / Advanced Materials and Processes