Researchers developed a new metallic glue that can bond two metal pieces at room temperature without the need for soldering or welding. Initial test of the "MesoGlue" showed the resulting bond is as durable as that of a conventional weld.
MesoGlue was founded by mechanical and industrial engineering professor Hanchen Huang, together with two of his PhD students at the Northeastern University.
The new metallic glue works by interconnecting metal nanorods that are coated with either indium or gallium, which are separated at first. The opposing nanorods, one with gallium and one with indium, are applied to each metal surface. Upon application, the nanorods stand up creating comb-like "teeth." The teeth stand up at opposing angles so when pressed together, they interlock just like Velcro.
When the two substances are combined, the reaction results in a liquid form that flows into any open space to ensure that all areas are covered with the new glue. When the liquid mix reacts with the nanorods' exposed metal cores, it turns solid and binds the two surfaces. Although the bonding process requires some pressure, no welding and soldering is needed. The MesoGlue also doesn't damage the electrical components.
"'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," said Huang, emphasizing that the high temperature in soldering and welding can affect other components.
"Such effects can speed up failure and not only increase cost but also prove dangerous to users," added Huang.
Since MesoGlue is a thermal conductor, it can soon be used in replacement of thermal grease. Being electrically conductive, it can potentially make soldering irrelevant. Huang believes the new glue can be used in pipe fittings and solar panel technology.
MesoGlue's solidified bond is both an electrical conductor and a thermal conductor – features that bring in a number of possible applications across different industries. MesoGlue will be useful in the electronics industry, where it can improve the packing of circuit board components without the need for soldering which can damage nearby components.
The research was published in the journal Advanced Materials & Processes.