Welding or soldering without heat seemed like a good idea to Hanchen Huang, professor and chair of the Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering at Northeastern University, Boston. He and his students dreamed of a better way to stick things together such as a computer's CPU to a printed circuit board, or the glass and metal filament in a lightbulb, according to a recent news@Northeastern post.
What the researchers came up with is MesoGlue, a glue made out of metal that sets at room temperature. As there is no heat involved with the use of MesoGlue, there is no change in the size of materials that would otherwise occur during cooling after processing.
Huang elaborated on the composition of the glue for the news@Northeastern post:
"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 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."
Huang and his students were granted a provisional patent for the development through Northeastern University. He and two of his doctoral students—University of North Florida Professor Stephen Stagon and Paul Elliott of Northeastern University—subsequently launched MesoGlue LLC, a start-up company with research and production facilities in Boston and Jacksonville, Fla.
MesoGlue may find application with glass-encapsulated devices such as diodes and reed switches, viewports for vacuum chambers and some industrial processes, according to the company website.
For more about the research, check out "Metallic Glue for Ambient Environments Making Strides" in the January 2016 digital edition of Advanced Materials & Processes.
For more about the newly formed company, visit the MesoGlue website here.