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|Will Copper Become Obsolete Anytime Soon?|
First, consider all the aspects of your life
that run along or through copper. Chances are you're reading this
newsletter on a PC or tablet or cell phone. These devices and other
electronic devices use copper for integrated circuits, wires, heat
sinks, switches and components. Chances are the lights over your head
are powered along copper electrical wires. We tried wiring houses with
aluminum wire in the 1960's but after too many fires, we went back to
copper. Power production and transmission also uses large amounts of
copper. Chances are at least some of your drinking water passes through
copper pipes and fittings. Your car's alternator, wiring and electrical
and electronic components all use copper. If you drive a hybrid or
electric car, you use even more copper. Maybe your roof is copper.
Copper has superior electrical properties which is one of the reasons why it has become increasingly important in a digital world. World copper production has doubled in the past thirty years and the average price of copper over the past few years is more than triple the average price during the 1990s.
Researchers in Concord, New Hampshire at Nanocomp Technologies (www.nanocomptech.com), a ramé-hart customer, are developing an innovative replacement for copper. They are building materials using carbon nanotubes which are more conductive than copper, lighter, and incredibly strong.
Carbon nanotubes (also called buckytubes or CNTs) are long hollow cylindrical carbon molecules with walls that are formed from sheets of carbon that are only one atom thick. CNTs can have a single or multiple walls. Carbon can be made into nanotubes that are longer than nanotubes made from any other material with lengths in excess of 100 million times the diameter.
While many researchers are working on materials that are made from CNTs, Nanocomp has developed a proprietary fabrication method. First, a mixture of iron and alcohol is introduced into a furnace where the carbon atoms in the alcohol are activated and bind to the iron. As the resulting cloud of CNTs exit the furnace, they are harvested and spun into yarns or spread into nonwoven sheets.
Current manufacturing methods are far too costly to threaten copper's dominance in general wiring applications. However, the superior strength, conductive properties, and lower weight of Nanocomp's CNT materials make it a compelling choice for mission-critical applications. In fact, Nanocomp has received over $5 million USD in grant money from the US Department of Defense to provide technology and materials for such applications as: aircraft cabling and wiring harnesses, bullet-resistant armor, structural components for satellites, shielding to protect against EMI (electromagnetic interference) and ESD (electrostatic discharge), and other particularly demanding electrical, structural, and shielding applications.
ramé-hart instrument company plays an
important role in the development of nanomaterials by providing
researchers with a tool for measuring contact angle and wetting properties
and for quantifying relative hydrophobicity and hydrophilicity of these high
performance materials and products.
|Product of the Month - Model 250|
Before you ask what instrument Nanocomp
Technologies uses for measuring contact angle, surface energy, and
surface tension, I'll tell you: They have a Model 250. This particular
model is popular with researchers due to its powerful array of
capabilities out of the box and its expandability for more specialized
Out of the box Model 250 which ships with DROPimage Advanced has the capacity to measure static and dynamic contact angle, surface energy, and surface tension. The powerful methods-based experiment design tool allows the user to craft experiments with control over timing, drop volume, and other parameters. By adding the Manual or Automated Tilting Base, the user can accurately capture advancing and receding contact angle, contact angle hysteresis, and roll-off angle. By adding the Automated Dispensing System, the user can increase drop volume precision and implement automated dispensing for dynamic drop volume experiments. By adding the Environmental Fixture, the user can now measure interfacial tension and contact angle on captive bubbles and inverted sessile drops in a liquid/liquid environment. By adding the software-controlled Oscillator, the user can measure surface dilatational elasticity and viscosity. A high speed upgrade kit is also available for analyzing change in contact angle during drop inception or to capture the dynamics of the Cassie to Wenzel transition. Film clamps and rotating wafer support options are also available for films and wafer substrates.