CleanTechnica is the #1 cleantech-focused
website
 in the world.


Energy Efficiency Yale researchers are developing a new type of lead free magnetic solder that could lower the cost of manufacturing electronics

Published on March 7th, 2010 | by Tina Casey

7

New "Liquid Magnet" Solder Eliminates Toxic Lead



Yale researchers are developing a new type of lead free magnetic solder that could lower the cost of manufacturing electronicsA team of researchers at Yale University has developed a new kind of magnetic, lead free solder that could be used to manufacture electronics more cheaply and efficiently.  That would be a big boost for efforts to manage the growing problem of electronic waste disposal and recycling, because conventional solder is made from lead, a known health hazard.

[social_buttons]

Lead is a heavy metal that was commonly used in house paint and gasoline in the U.S.  Those uses were banned after the discovery that lead is a potent neurotoxin, but lead solder continues to be permitted in U.S. manufacturing.  That creates a huge problem in the electronic waste stream, and it also impedes U.S. companies from entering global markets where anti-lead regulations are growing.

The Lead Solder Conundrum

The key to lead’s popularity lies in the one-two punch of high strength combined with a low melting point.  Lead solder can be melted directly onto delicate electronic components with a relatively small amount of heat, which greatly reduces the chance of damaging the components during the manufacturing process.  As writer Katherine Bourzac describes in MIT’s Technology Review, so far the non-lead alternatives have failed on both counts: they tend to be weaker, and they require much more heat during the soldering process.

Yale’s Magnetic Solder Breakthrough

The Yale team has come up with a tin-silver alloy that holds micro-particles of iron.  Rather than applying heat from an external source, the compound is exposed to a magnetic field.  That excites the iron particles, which causes the solder to heat up and melt internally.  The result is a highly localized melt that has little or no effect on the components around it.  Bourzac explains that the magnetic field also forces the iron particles to line up.  The particles hold position when the solder cools, which results in a much stronger bond than possible with conventional non-lead soldering compounds.

Magnets and Energy Efficiency

Magnets are beginning to establish a pivotal role in the energy efficient future.  At Columbia University, for example, researchers are developing computer chips that use nano-magnetic materials, which could shave up to 30% off the energy used by data centers.  Advances are also being made on the research end, as illustrated by a new high efficiency research magnet being built at Florida State University that will generate a far more powerful field while using less energy.  Yale’s new solder is still in the development stages but if it proves adaptable on a commercial scale, it could replace a relatively energy intensive step in the electronics manufacturing process with a simple, more energy efficient magnetic field.

Image: Solder by Garycycle2 on flickr.com.

Print Friendly

Tags: , ,


About the Author

Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



  • http://www.squidoo.com/coffeetableswithstorage Leanna Smtih

    I wasn’t going to remark as this page was written a while ago, but I discovered myself wanting to know one or two questions just after I read it. I think it is very important to search out the weblogs that you go through commonly and continue to be engaged in the conversation in a regular, appropriate as well as well-timed fashion. Therefore I am going to return and see exactly what you will be giving an answer to.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/coffeetableswithstorage Leanna Smtih

    I wasn’t going to remark as this page was written a while ago, but I discovered myself wanting to know one or two questions just after I read it. I think it is very important to search out the weblogs that you go through commonly and continue to be engaged in the conversation in a regular, appropriate as well as well-timed fashion. Therefore I am going to return and see exactly what you will be giving an answer to.

  • http://ipadnewssvcip.easyjournal.com/rss/ipadnewssvcip.xml Alaina Vongvivath

    Hi,Hello I begot this site, i woudl be happy if you allow me to publish a heartful review about your website in my iPad Blog http://ipadnewssvcip.easyjournal.com/rss/ipadnewssvcip.xml would you grant me permission to? Kind regards, Alaina Vongvivath

    • Tina Casey

      That’s fine with me, thanks.

  • http://ipadnewssvcip.easyjournal.com/rss/ipadnewssvcip.xml Alaina Vongvivath

    Hi,Hello I begot this site, i woudl be happy if you allow me to publish a heartful review about your website in my iPad Blog http://ipadnewssvcip.easyjournal.com/rss/ipadnewssvcip.xml would you grant me permission to? Kind regards, Alaina Vongvivath

  • Sven

    When I think of nano-magnetic computer chips, I don’t think of energy savings. The smaller and more energy efficient computer chips become, the number of new applications for them increases, leading to more overall energy consumption. It will always be this way.

  • Sven

    When I think of nano-magnetic computer chips, I don’t think of energy savings. The smaller and more energy efficient computer chips become, the number of new applications for them increases, leading to more overall energy consumption. It will always be this way.

Back to Top ↑