New Alloy Could Make Components Less Expensive

Precious metals are expensive, and palladium is no exception. But Japanese researchers from Kyoto University think that they may have come up with an alternative to this pricey metal. (That's palladium, mind you, not paladin.)

Palladium is used for a variety of products and processes including: capacitors, gold-alternative plating for electronics, fuel cells, coins, various chemical uses, medicine, and more. For you non-techies out there, you can also use palladium to make art. (Here's a more extensive list of how Palladium is used.)

Palladium crystals.

Hiroshi Kitagawa and his team used nanotechnology to combine two metals, rhodium and silver, which normally do not mix, to create a palladium-like alloy. The team used nanotechnology to nebulise(according to ChemiCool this is a way of producing an aerosol, according to mediLexicon this is a way of creating a cloud of fine particles from a liquid. From this I extracted that the nanotechnology broke the metal down to individual particles, allowing them to mix well and eventually bond) the two metals, mixed them with heated alcohol, and the two metals mixed, stabilizing at the atomic level.

While both rhodium and silver are also precious metals, and carry quite the price tag, combined they may be cheaper than palladium. At the time of this writing the price of palladium is currently $802 per troy ounce, while rhodium is $2380 per troy ounce and silver is $31.02 per troy ounce. The team does not say what the ratio of silver to rhodium is, but in order for it to be worth while it's assumed that the ratio is high enough to bring the price lower than palladium.

The team hopes to use nanotechnology to make more special alloys.

Also, while the cost savings on an individual level probably won't be a lot--it isn't like a capacitor costs much to begin with--I could see how this could reduce manufacturing costs for mass-produced gadgets.

[Physorg via Engadget / Photo: Images-of-elements.com; used under Creative Commons]

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