Amalgam Wires

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Summary:

Would there be any electronic benifit to Alloy wires?

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Would using mercury to form amalgam alloys combining gold, copper, and silver have any electronic value? Has this amalgam ever been made and tested in conductivity and Malleability? Or would it just be an expensive filling?
 

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  • #2
symbolipoint
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First thought although based on incomplete understanding, is "solder" which is meant as a meltable wire to make electronic connections among or between other pieces which are not expected to melt.
 
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First thought although based on incomplete understanding, is "solder" which is meant as a meltable wire to make electronic connections among or between other pieces which are not expected to melt.
yes I was wondering if the alloy of Hg, Au, Ag, and Cu would be significant conductive wire/or solder in comparison to the individual metals themselves, and if the alloy would be any less prone to oxidation than the individual metals. And wondering if the tensil strength of the alloy would be strong enough to be used as a wire.
 
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Should this post perhaps be moved to electrical engineering?
 
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symbolipoint
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Should this post perhaps be moved to electrical engineering?
No. Either keep it where it is, or maybe move into any of these options:
  • Materials And Chemical Engineering
  • General Engineering
 
  • #6
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Does anyone have any handling and procedural tips if I were to attempt to make a mercury/electrum amalgam myself to test its properties?
 
  • #7
symbolipoint
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Summary: Would there be any electronic benifit to Alloy wires?

Would using mercury to form amalgam alloys combining gold, copper, and silver have any electronic value? Has this amalgam ever been made and tested in conductivity and Malleability? Or would it just be an expensive filling?
Seeing the original question, your first sentence, before your discussion, and since you asked about moving the topic, maybe Electrical Engineering could be a good placement in case moderator or administrator decides to make the move.
 
  • #8
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IIRC, some relays had 'mercury wetted contacts'.

Currently, mercury toxicity means you have very strict limits on usage & disposal. Note how mercury-based batteries have gone from use. Consider the restrictions on lead-based solder...

( Mercury clean-up is non-trivial: I'd a 'nose' for the stuff, could smell (!!) a broken thermometer half-way across a large lab. Just like a blown wire fuse-- Remember those ? Mask, goggles, gloves, disposal kit, plastic bucket to empty the sink's trap... )

Also, mercury vapour 'gets about'. Within an electronic enclosure, it may contaminate unpredictably, form unexpected amalgams, destroy eg Aluminium's oxide layer and cause extensive dendrite growth...

IIRC, Mercury is not a very good conductor, but found use as a metal that is liquid at ambient temperatures.
As a chemist by training, I still find that remarkable...
 
  • #9
marcusl
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I don’t understand why this would be a good idea. Anything you produce would have lower conductivity (and probably higher cost) than copper. What about ductility? Amalgam is tough enough to replace tooth enamel, so would it be unbendable/difficult to draw into wire/easily work hardened (hence brittle)?
 
  • #10
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Summary: Would there be any electronic benifit to Alloy wires?

Would using mercury to form amalgam alloys combining gold, copper, and silver have any electronic value? Has this amalgam ever been made and tested in conductivity and Malleability? Or would it just be an expensive filling?
I can't think of any application where wires made of amalgam would perform better or cheaper than those made with more conventional alloys.

As @Nik_2213 points out in post 8, there once had been a market for relays with mercury-wetted contacts. They were once widely used in telephone circuits based on several '60s era salvage PCB cards I had that were chock full of them.

A niche market still exists for mercury displacement relays in power-handling applications as they can switch high currents in a small package at relatively fast cycle times, but are almost never used in new designs due to health and environmental concerns of mercury spills combined with advances in high power solid-state devices.

I remember taking several days cleaning up an electrical cabinet after a 30 amp power pole ruptured due to a short circuit combined with an improperly rated fuse. Balls of mercury got into everything, and it was necessary to essentially take it all apart, clean each wire, terminal block, etc. individually, and rewire. Don't remember how much a 30A pole contained, but a 100A pole weighed in at nearly a pound of mercury.

Found a patent on a mercury amalgam electrical contact, but I don't recall ever having seen one "in the wild".
https://patents.google.com/patent/US3155804A/en
 

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