Current adhesives are about one thousand times thicker than the thickness of nano-glue, with one nanometer being one-billionth of one meter (or ten Angstroms, which is an internationally recognized unit of length for very small sizes).
(As a comparison, take a look at one of the hairs on your head, its width on average is about 80,000 nanometers.)
The Rensselaer scientists, led by materials science and engineering professor Ganapathiraman Ramanath, found, much to their surprise, that their nano-glue concoction actually got stronger as the surrounding temperature increased—up to about 700 degrees Celsius (1290 degrees Fahrenheit).
The nano-glue is made from individual, self-assembling molecular chains of carbon, hydrogen, silicon, and sulfur. This nanolayer is, then, placed between a thin film of copper on one end and silica at the other end. Such an arrangement protects the inside molecular chains from heat and, at the same time, it increases its overall strength.
The Rensselaer team is excited by the discovery because strength at high temperatures is difficult to come by. Therefore, their nano-glue should be very important in such applications as gluing together computer chips and other microscopic components, and as a heat-resistant coating for turbines and engines. The new nano-glue will add to the efficiency, reliability, and structural durability of semiconductor devices used within computer chips. It is envisioned to help out in the production of energy, too, along with other yet-to-imagined uses.
Nano-glue is already available commercially. However, the new heat-resistant, temperature-hardened nano-glue developed by Ramanath’s team is still being refined to make it stickier. Currently, 100 grams cost about $35 to make.
The results of Ramanath’s team is found in the May 17, 2007 issue of the journal Nature (volume 447, page 299). The team includes Darshan Gandhi, Amit Singh, Saroj Nayak, and Yu Zhou, from Rensselaer; Michael Lane, from IBM; and Ulrike Tisch and Moshe Eizenerg, from Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.
This new nano-glue has great potential for an assortment of uses where materials are unable to bond together properly with other adhesives. Its low cost of production makes it profitable to use in a wide range of commercial products currently in use and for future yet-to-be-discovered applications.