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?
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 email@example.com. If they want to learn more they can visit our blog, the Indium Blog. (Which talks about gallium-indium and other alloys.) And www.indium.com 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!