Indium Blog

NanoFoil® and the Grilled Cheese Incident







Having worked with NanoFoil® for over two years, I've tried just about every way possible to explain what it is, where it comes from, and why it is useful. My interchanges with engineers and non-engineer friends and colleagues used to go like this...


Tommy:'s kind of like aluminum foil in thickness and look, but a little stiffer and when you put energy into it, like a spark, it heats to 1500 degrees Celsius (which is hotter than lava in a volcano) for less than a millisecond!

My engineering and non-engineering friends display puzzled looks, you know the ones you get when you start explaining that your favorite sport is water polo and it has nothing to do with horses...ok the look you have right now

Engineering Friend: Umm so what can I blow up with it?

Non-Engineering Friend: So wait, if it's that fast and that hot, I bet you could make really fast grilled cheese. Have you called Healthy Choice yet?

Good Grief!

What is NanoFoil...if it's not for the food preparation market what does it have to do with indium and solder?

NanoFoil® is a thin film heat source. At the heart of it, that is the simplest definition.
Whether you've heard of the product and use it, you're new to the technology, or you are just interested in nanotechnology, this product is not only cool but useful!

Flash Animation" src="" class="cke_flash">Expanding on the definition: NanoFoil is a thin film layer made up of thousands of alternating nanolayers of aluminum and nickel. When localized energy, like a spark or intense heat (think soldering iron) is applied, a reaction (below) occurs between all the layers - and the foil (40-80microns in thickness - think human hair) heats up to 1,500 °C for less than a milisecond.



Al + Ni -> AlNi  (You didn't know there'd be chemistry involved did you?)

So you see why it isn't great for melting grilled cheese now, right?  It would only singe the outer bread layer, at best.

There are many applications for NanoFoil, but it is most commonly used for joining two components together. That is, components that have solder pre-applied (pre-tinned). In this situation, the NanoFoil, as the heat source, remelts the solder and reflows the joint WITHOUT the heating the nearby components or substrates!

So, while I won't be calling Healthy Choice any time soon, there are many applications where NanoFoil is useful...LEDs and CPV bonding for thermal management, and sputtering target bonding for higher power just to name a few.

Stay tuned (subscribe via RSS or email - below) for more applications and for more about how NanoFoil is used to bond, and just more about nanotechnology.  If you think I got some weird looks from my friends about NanoFoil, imagine what they said when I told them about the nano...pants?

For more information, visit here.