The paper, titled “Mechanical Fracturing of Core-Shell Undercooled Metal Particles for Heat-Free Soldering,” was co-authored by postdocs Simge Cinar and Ian Tevis, Ph.D. student Jiahao Chen, and Thuo. Their work focused on heat-free soldering, or molding, of metal structures.
The technology involves being able to stabilize molten metal in its liquid state at room temperature. The group used an extension droplet emulsion technique to produce liquid-metal particles that remain stable against solidification. The idea rests on the ability to contain molten metal inside a protective layer. This layer eliminates agents that promote solidification and hence the metal remains in liquid form when cooled below its melting temperature (supercooled metal).
They found that these particles can be used for heat-free joining and manufacturing, producing a simple and low-cost technique for soldering and fabrication. These supercooled liquid metal particles enable the creation of more complex shapes and structures without the need for heat and with very little mechanical force.
Following a patent related to this work, the group is pursuing use of this application in large structural repairs. They hope to develop formulations for use across materials classes, and extend the use of this technology to other materials. The group plans to work with a start-up company based at the ISU Research Park to have this technology on the market soon.
The full text of the Scientific Reports article can be found here.