These simple, cost-effective droplets could replace the soldering iron

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[Researchers have created a way to solder without the use of heat or electricity / Sci. Rep.]

Using a soldering iron may one day be a thing of the past. At least that’s if an Iowa State University researcher has his way.

A new paper, describes how a team of researchers used chemical reactions to encapsulate liquid droplets of metal in a thin outer shell. When pressure is placed on the droplets they break, causing the liquid metal inside to quickly solidify. Researchers say it’s a simple and low-cost alternative to old methods.

“This is a very clever way of taking advantage of what Mother Nature gives you,” North Carolina State University chemical engineer, Michael Dickey told Chemical and Engineering News.

Through a process known as undercooling, the team was able to develop “undercooled core-shell particles of structure.” This allows the droplets to remain in a liquid state even if the temperature surrounding them is below its melting points.

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[The droplets quickly solidify after being subjected to pressures / Sci. Rep.]

The droplets themselves were subjected to over-heating, and were created by whipping the molten metals into a froth, Chemical and Engineering News reports. The droplets then react with air to create an oxide shell.

The team later demonstrated the technique to join gold wire to a film and have also used the droplets to repair a hole in a thin film of sliver.

Martin Thuo, Iowa State University’s materials scientist, has formed a start-up company called Safi-Tech to “commercialize the technology,” Chemical and Engineering News reports.

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