LIVERMORE, Calif. — Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and Reactive NanoTechnologies, Inc. (RNT) have entered into an exclusive license agreement regarding LLNL’ s reactive joining process.
By combining the Livermore process with other advances, ReactiveNanoTechnologies Inc., has developed a method of joining that permits new approaches to the current processes of soldering and brazing.
This new approach will also enable precision soldering and brazing, as well as permit new applications in the areas of metal-to-ceramic joining and joining of temperature-sensitive components.
The technology licensed by RNT — and developed at LLNL — utilizes an energetic multi-layer foil that can be ignited at room temperature using a simple spark. The spark initiates a self-propagating reaction that travels along the foil, rapidly raising its temperature to over 1200°C. This process of deploying exact amounts of heat to a localized area replaces conventional heat sources such as furnaces, torches and lasers.
RNT’ s process is based on inserting a reactive foil between two braze or solder layers and the two components to be joined. Upon igniting the foil, heat released by the reaction melts the surrounding braze or solder, joining the two components.
According to Dr. Tim Weihs, president and CEO of RNT, “The key benefit of reactive joining using nanostructure multilayer foils is that a precise amount of heat is delivered locally to the interface where it is needed, limiting the thermal exposure of the components being joined.”
In contrast, during conventional soldering or brazing both components are heated to high temperatures. This melts the solder or braze and thereby forms a joint. On cooling, the differences in thermal contraction of dissimilar materials leads to large thermal stresses, weak joints and potential delamination. This is particularly true when brazing metals to ceramics.
On the other hand, with RNTs reactive joining process, the heat is delivered locally to the interface, minimizing component heating and the associated thermal damage. This opens the door to cost-effective fabrication of strong metal-ceramic joints.
The uses for LLNL’ s reactive joining technology also include mounting and sealing of temperature-sensitive components, such as micro-electronic and optical devices. In summary, this process offers the means for making strong, conductive, and cost-effective joints, while minimizing the impact of thermal damage.
RNT was founded in January 2001 and completed seed financing in June 2002. The company is developing a range of reactive foils, varying in composition and overall thickness and intends to mass-produce and distribute a wide variety of foils. “ In the current commercialization phase, RNT is working with individual firms to solve their specific joining problems,” said Caroline Worrall, RNT's CFO.
Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is a national security laboratory, with a mission to ensure national security and apply science and technology to the important issues of our time. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.
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