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Emerging Applications for Liquid Metal

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  • Phil: When we think of metals that are liquid at ambient temperatures, we immediately think of mercury.


    Jim: Of course!


    Phil: But, unfortunately, mercury is on the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) list. We’ve been so preoccupied in our industry with lead going away – mercury is also taking an exit – and there are a lot of applications. What are we using in place of mercury these days?


    Jim: Well, there is a whole suite of materials that are liquid metal at room temperature or below room temperature. I brought one of them to show you. These are primarily gallium alloys with indium, and depending on the melting point we also add some tin or zinc.


    Phil: And as you say: there’s a suite, there’s a range of these alloys with different solidus temperatures, I assume.


    Jim: Right, anywhere down to 7-8 degrees Celsius.


    Phil: So they really lend themselves to a variety of applications – in a wider spectrum than old mercury did.


    Jim: Correct, yeah.


    Phil: Very cool.


    Jim: One of the places you might have heard of liquid metal in electronics applications is a few years ago it was used as a thermal interface material for a very famous processor. That’s a pretty cool application for liquid metal, it’s very good for thermal interfacing.


    Phil: What are some of the other applications you’re seeing these liquid metals applied to?


    Jim: Well, right now, using it as a circuit material is huge because you can develop stretchable electronics which can be stretched 7 times their length, they can be twisted – and it very exciting, especially in the field of robotics. You think of robotics as being rigid, and all of a sudden now you can have something that is more life-like. …And something that you can actually wear. These liquid metal alloys are really exciting for new applications.


    Phil: Absolutely, yeah – and you’re the guy to come to?


    Jim: Yeah!


    Phil: As far as people bringing their challenges, their ideas, their imagination, you’re the one to interface with at Indium Corporation?


    Jim: Right, yeah – I want liquid alloys to be a tool in the engineer’s toolkit to solve problems. I would say: if anyone wants to contact me I can definitely round up a team and help them solve their application – whether it be liquid metals or low temperature alloys, they can always contact me at If they want to learn more they can visit our blog, the Indium Blog. (Which talks about gallium-indium and other alloys.) And has a lot of information on solders in general – be it low temperature or high temperature.


    Phil: Great. “Get your imagination in gear and give Jim a call.” Jim, thank you so much.


    Jim: Thank you Phil!