The price of gold has hit record highs, and is still rising. Prices today were $1,343.85 an ounce, and Goldman Sachs forecasts a gold price of $1,650 a year from now. Reasons include falling interest rates and a slowdown of the U.S. economic recovery.
That’s wreaking havoc with design engineers who rely on gold for conductivity in electrical and electronic applications.
Now comes news that researchers at the University of Connecticut and the United Technologies Research Center have modeled and developed new classes of alloy materials for use in electronic applications that will reduce reliance on gold and other precious metals.
With funding from the U.S. Army Research Office, Mark Aindow and S. Pamir Alpay, UConn professors of materials science and engineering, and Joseph Mantese, a UTRC Fellow, have developed new classes of materials that behave much like gold and its counterparts when exposed to the oxidizing environments that degrade traditional base metals.
The team has demonstrated experimentally the methodology for improving the electrical contact resistance of metals such as nickel, copper and iron.
Higher conductivity native oxide scales can be achieved in these alloys through one of three processes: doping to enhance carrier concentration, inducing mixed oxidation states to give electron/polaron hopping, and/or phase separation for conducting pathways.
New versions of BASF's Ecovio line are both compostable and designed for either injection molding or thermoforming. These combinations are becoming more common for the single-use bioplastics used in food service and food packaging applications, but are still not widely available.
The 100-percent solar-powered Solar Impulse plane flies on a piloted, cross-country flight this summer over the US as a prelude to the longer, round-the-world flight by its successor aircraft planned for 2015.
GE Aviation expects to chop off about 25 percent of the total 3D printing time of metallic production components for its LEAP Turbofan engine, using in-process inspection. That's pretty amazing, considering how slow additive manufacturing (AM) build times usually are.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This radio show will show what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.