The glue sticking it to soldering and welding

MesoGlue is a startup company founded by Professor Hanchen Huang and Paul Elliott of Northeastern University and Professor Stephen Stagon from the University of North Florida. The company claims to have developed a glue made of metal that sets at room temperature and will bond nearly any flat surface with minimal pressure.

“It's like welding or soldering but without the heat," explained Prof Huang. "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 gallium 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 gallium touch, a liquid is formed. The metal core of the rods is said to act to turn that liquid into a solid. The resulting glue provides the strength and thermal/electrical conductance of a metal bond.

The company has two products: MesoGlue Silver, a pure silver bond, said to offer high electrical and thermal conductivity and MesoGlue Eutectic which is made primarily of copper and, as its name suggests, requires small amounts of pressure to form a bond.

Prof Huang also explained that the glue is preferable to bonding methods that rely on heat, like soldering and welding – especially in attaching devices to circuit boards - as it poses no risk of damage to the components or junctions in semiconductor devices.

He said: “Such effects can speed up failure and not only increase cost but also prove dangerous to users.”

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 solders. The glue is said to be suitable for use in products including solar cells, pipe fittings, and components for computers and mobile devices.

Tom Austin-Morgan

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