Shows & Panels
- The 2014 Big Picture on Cyber Security
- AFCEA Answers
- Ask the CIO
- Building the Hybrid Cloud
- Connected Government: How to Build and Procure Network Services for the Future
- Continuing Diagnostics and Mitigation: Discussion of Progress and Next Steps
- Federal Executive Forum
- Federal Tech Talk
- The Future of Government Data Centers
- The Future of IT: How CIOs Can Enable the Service-Oriented Enterprise
- The Intersection: Where Technology Meets Transformation
- Maximizing ROI Through Data Center Consolidation
- Moving to the Cloud. What's the best approach for me
- Navigating Tough Choices in Government Cloud Computing
- The New Generation of Database
- Satellite Communications: Acquiring SATCOM in Tight Times
- Targeting Advanced Threats: Proven Methods from Detection through Remediation
- Transformative Technology: Desktop Virtualization in Government
- The Truth About IT Opex and Software Defined Networking
- Value of Health IT
- Air Traffic Management Transformation Report
- Cloud First Report
- General Dynamics IT Enterprise Center
- Gov Cloud Minute
- Government in Technology Series
- Homeland Security Cybersecurity Market Report
- National Cybersecurity Awareness Month
- Technology Insights
- The Cyber Security Report
- The Next Generation Cyber Security Experts
Shows & Panels
Ames National Lab's investment in solder research pays off
Tuesday - 1/10/2012, 11:07am EST
This solder has now become the top money-maker for the Energy Department lab. As of this summer, the solder has generated $38.9 million in royalties, said Nita Lovejoy, associate director of the ISU Research Foundation (ISURF) and ISU's Office of Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer, in a release.
Lead-free soldering (Photo from Ameslab.gov)
"Then you let it solidify and you have a nice, hopefully strong, hopefully electrically conducting joint," said Dr. Alex King, director of the Ames National Lab, in an interview with The Federal Drive with Tom Temin.
Soldering is not a new process. King said there is archaeological evidence that soldering was in practice thousands of years ago. However, Ames' invention used an alloy that did not rely on lead and tin, what was traditionally used in soldering.
The lab established an international patent for the alloy so now anyone who uses it for commercial purposes must pay royalties, King said. Currently, lead-free solder is licensed to 53 companies in 13 countries, according to the release.
In recent years, the European Union and Japanese banned the use of lead in electronics.
Dr. Alex King, director of the Ames National Laboratory (Photo from Ameslab.gov)
Lead-based electronics that end up in landfills leech into the groundwater, while recycled electronics expose people who to the recycling to lead fumes, King said.
"What happened was the alloy that was invented here proved to be a very, very appropriate replacement because you can almost literally take a spool of the old lead-tin solder out of the machine, replace it with a spool of the alloy we invented — you have to tweak the temperature settings just a little bit — but the whole process will work just as if you made no changes at all," King said.
Ames' current research is focused heavily on rare earth elements, King said. Currently, 97 percent of these elements come from one place — China, he said.
Prices have "gone through the roof" because supply and demand are out of balance, King said.
"We're working very hard to develop new sources of rare earth, to develop recycling for rare earth and, as we did with the lead-free solder, develop replacements, so we can use things that are not so sensitive to the source of supply," he said.