History and Development of Copper

Sorry for that we have not updated the “Metal History” column for a long time. For previous posts of this column, please search the keyword “history”. Today, let us unveil the history of copper.

Copper

Copper is one of the earliest metals discovered by mankind and the first metal that humans began to use. Copper beads made of natural copper excavated by archaeologists in northern Iraq are supposed to have been more than 10,000 years old. Methods for refining copper from its ores were discovered around 5000BC and a 1000 or so years later it was being used in pottery in North Africa.

Part of the reason for it being used so early is simply that it is relatively easy to shape. However, it is somewhat too soft for many tools and around 5000 years ago it was discovered that when copper is mixed with other metals the resulting alloys are harder than the copper itself. As examples, brass is a mixture of copper and zinc while bronze is a mixture of copper and tin. For many centuries, bronze reigned supreme, being used for plows, tools of all kinds, weapons, armor, and decorative objects.

Mesopotamia, circa 4500 BC

Pure Metal is ineffective as a weapon and tool because of its softness. But early metallurgy experimentation by the Mesopotamians resulted in a solution to this problem: bronze, an alloy of copper and tin, was not only harder but also could be treated by forging (shaping and hardening through hammering) and casting (poured and molded as a liquid).

Mesopotamia copper

The ability to extract copper from ore bodies has been well developed. In today’s Armenia, bronze and copper alloy tools, including chisels, razors, harpoons, arrows and spearheads, have been traced back to the third millennium BC. A chemical analysis of bronze from the region indicates that common alloys of the time contained approximately 87 percent copper, 10 to 11 percent tin, and small amounts of iron, nickel, lead, arsenic, and antimony.

Egypt, circa 3500 BC

The use of copper in Egypt developed almost at the same time as Mesopotamia. The copper pipe used to transport water was used in the King Sa’Hu-Re temple in Abusir, 2750 BC. These tubes are made of thin copper plate with a diameter of 2.95 inches (75 mm) and a pipe length of nearly 328 feet (100 m). The Egyptians also used copper and bronze as mirrors, razors, utensils, weights and balances, as well as obelisks and ornaments on temples. According to biblical references, the Egyptians used a large number of bronze pillars on the porch of the Solomon Palace in Jerusalem (circa 9th century BC), which were 6 feet (1.83 meters) in diameter and 25 feet (7.62 meters) high.

Egypt copper

China, circa 2800 BC

By the year 2000 BC, bronzes were produced in large quantities in China. Bronze castings found in Henan and Shaanxi provinces and surrounding areas are considered to be the beginnings of Chinese bronzes, although some copper and bronze artifacts used by the Majiayao have been dated as early as 3000 BC.

China copper

Relevant literature shows the direction of metallurgy in China, and discusses in detail the exact proportions of copper and tin used to produce different alloy grades for casting different items such as cymbals and bells, axes, spears, swords, arrows and mirrors.

Modern Development

In modern industry, copper was widely used in the power and electronics industries. By the 1960s, copper used in these two industries accounted for 28%. By 1997, these two industries were still the main areas of copper consumption, accounting for Than 25%. Later, copper was widely used in electrical, light industry, machinery manufacturing, construction industry, transportation and other fields. As far as America is concerned, copper is second only to aluminum in the consumption of non-ferrous materials. Copper has excellent performance and is easy to recycle and recycle. At present, there are already relatively complete recycled copper recycling systems in developed countries. For example, the output of recycled copper in the United States accounts for 60% of the total output, and Germany accounts for 80%.

Information provided by SAM Sputter Targets.

Related Copper Products: Copper Sputtering Target

Indium: Stable Demand in Thin Film Solar Industry

With the full arrival of the mobile energy era, the thin film solar industry grows explosively. Thin-film solar chips are light, thin, and flexible. They can be embedded in various types of carriers like Intel chips, from urban skyscrapers to neighborhood roofs, or parasols on the street, and cars running on the road. They have turned traditional products into “power generation bodies”, enabling energy sharing and free use.

Indium

Indium is one of the basic raw materials for the manufacture of thin film solar cells. Indium, atomic number 49, was discovered in 1863 by the German chemist H. Richter in zinc concentrate. Indium is silvery white and has a light blue color. The texture is very soft and can be scored with nails. In nature, indium minerals are dispersed in trace amounts in other minerals. The distribution of indium in the earth’s crust is relatively small, 1/8 of gold and 1/50 of silver. So far, no single or indium-based natural indium deposit has been found. Therefore, indium resources, in people’s impression, are scarce and difficult to mine, so that there is concern about whether there will be shortages and unstable prices of the precious metal.

Luckily, it is optimistic that the industry has said that with the improvement of mining technology, drilling technology, purification technology and recycling technology, more and more indium resources can be used. Therefore, even if the output of copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) increases explosively in the next few years, it is difficult to affect the supply and demand of indium.

CIGS solar cell

CIGS solar cellIn the future, the copper indium gallium selenide film industry will enter a period of low-cost and high-speed development, and the thin-film solar market will be fully opened. As the photovoltaic industry continues to evolve, reducing power generation costs is a continuing goal. In this context, reducing the amount of precious indium through technical routes is a cost-reduction method that many companies are actively exploring.

At present, some companies have developed a more reliable solution to reduce the amount of indium used in copper-indium-gallium-selenide modules: developing new plasma-spray target technology, reducing the loss in sputtering target coating, reclaiming indium on residual targets, and etc. In addition, by appropriately increasing the composition of gallium or thinning the battery film layer in the copper indium gallium selenide battery, the amount of indium can also be effectively reduced.

The industry produces metal indium by purifying waste zinc and waste tin, and the recovery rate is about 60-70%. From this calculation, based on the proven reserves, the increase in recoverable amount and the indium recovery rate, the currently available indium is about 15,000 tons to 18,000 tons. If all of these indiums are used to produce copper indium gallium selenide batteries, it can produce 1,800 GW, and even if only one-tenth of the amount is used, it can produce 180 GW. In conclusion, in terms of current copper indium gallium selenide production capacity, indium resources are still very rich.

For more information about thin film coating, please visit https://www.sputtertargets.net/.

 

Introduction to the Use and Application of Chromium

Chromium is a hard metal that is resistant to corrosion. It is widely used in metallurgy, chemical, cast iron, fire-resistant, and high-end technology. The specific application ratio is shown in the following figure:

specific application ratio of Chromium

Chromium in the Metallurgical Industry

Chromium is a hard metal, and is often incorporated into steel to make hard and corrosion-resistant alloys. Those alloys are mainly used to refine stainless steel, heat-resistant steel and various electric heating materials. When stainless steel encounters corrosive substances, its surface will form a fine and solid chrome oxide film, which protects the internal metal from corrosion. Some stainless steel can maintain its excellent performance even at high temperature of 800 °C. Chrome steel is a good material for manufacturing machinery, tanks and armored vehicles.

Chromium tank

Chromium in the Chemical Industry

Chromium salt is one of the main varieties of inorganic salts and is the main raw material in the chemical industry. It is widely used in daily life, including electroplating, tanning, printing and dyeing, medicine, fuel, catalyst, oxidant, match and metal corrosion inhibitor.

Chromium barrel

At the same time, metallic chromium has been listed as one of the most important coating metals–chromium sputtering targets for sputter deposition and chromium evaporation materials for evaporation coating. In most cases, the chrome layer is specifically used as the outermost coating for the parts. When chrome is applied, the thinner the chrome layer, the closer it is to the surface of the metal. The chrome layer on the inner walls of some is only five thousandths of a millimeter thick, but after firing thousands of rounds and bullets, the chrome layer still exists. If the surface is not chrome-plated, the service life of most parts will be greatly shortened due to wear and corrosion, and must be replaced or repaired frequently. Therefore, chrome plating is widely used in many industrial manufacturing.

Chromium for Refractory and Cast Iron

Chromite has a high melting point of 1900 °C – 2050 °C, and it can maintain the volume at high temperature and does not react with any slag, so it is used as a lining for refractory materials, steelmaking furnaces and non-ferrous metal smelting furnaces.

chrome bricks

Chromite can be used to make chrome bricks, chrome-magnesia bricks and other special refractory materials. In addition, chromium is also used in cast iron, such as chromium cast ductile iron, which has high strength, high elongation, high impact value and low hardness.

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Basic Knowledge of Refractory Metal Tantalum

Tantalum Overview

Tantalum is part of the refractory metal group and it has good physical and chemical properties.

Tantalum has high hardness that can reach 6-6.5. Its melting point is as high as 2996 ° C, only after carbon, tungsten, rhenium and osmium. Tantalum is malleable and can be drawn into a thin foil. Its coefficient of thermal expansion is very small, and it only expands by 6.6 parts per million per degree Celsius. In addition, it has a strong toughness and is superior to copper.

Refractory Metal tantalum
Refractory Metal Tantalum

Tantalum does not react with hydrochloric acid, concentrated nitric acid and “aqua regia” under both cold and hot conditions. And tantalum is only corroded by concentrated sulfuric acid at temperatures above 150 °C. Tantalum can be considered one of the most chemically stable metals at temperatures below 150 °C. It is also highly resistant to corrosion because of the formation of a stable tantalum pentoxide (Ta2O5) protective layer on its surface.

Tantalum Application

Tantalum can be used to manufacture evaporation vessels, as well as tubes, rectifiers, and electrolytic capacitors. Tantalum forms a stable anodized film in an acidic electrolyte. The electrolytic capacitor made of tantalum has the advantages of large capacity, small size and good reliability. Tantalum capacitors are the most important use of tantalum, around 2/3 of the full use of tantalum. Tantalum is also the material for making electron-emitting tubes and high-power tube parts. Anti-corrosion equipment made by Tantalum is used in the chemical industry such as strong acid, bromine and ammonia producing industries. The metal tantalum can be used as a structural material for the combustion chamber of an aircraft engine. Tantalum is easy to form and can be used as support accessories, heat shields, heaters and heat sinks in high temperature vacuum furnaces. Tantalum can also be used as orthopedic and surgical materials. Tantalum sputtering targets and tantalum evaporation materials are important coating materials in physical vapor deposition.

tantalum capacitor
tantalum capacitor

High Purity Tantalum Preparation

The chemical inertness and relatively low price of tantalum make it a good alternative to platinum.  However, high-purity tantalum is not easy to get because it is always found together with niobium in the mineral groups of tantalite, columbite, and coltan. To get high purity tantalum, here are several methods.

1 Tantalum powder can be obtained by metal thermal reduction (sodium thermal reduction) method. The potassium fluotantalate is reduced with sodium metal under an inert atmosphere: K2TaF7 + 5Na-→Ta+5NaF+2KF. The reaction was carried out in a stainless steel tank, and the reaction was quickly completed when the temperature was heated to 900 °C. The powder prepared by this method has irregular grain shape and fine particle size, and is suitable for making tantalum capacitors.

2 The tantalum powder can also be obtained by molten salt electrolysis: a molten salt of a mixture of potassium fluoroantimonate, potassium fluoride and potassium chloride is used as an electrolyte, and tantalum pentoxide (Ta2O5) is dissolved therein and electrolyzed at 750 °C. This method can obtain a bismuth powder having a purity of 99.8 to 99.9%.

3 Tantalum can also be obtained by carbothermal reduction of Ta2O5. The reduction is generally carried out in two steps: first, a mixture of a certain ratio of Ta2O5 and carbon is made into tantalum carbide (TaC) at 1800 to 2000 ° C in a hydrogen atmosphere. Then, TaC and Ta2O5 are prepared into a mixture in a certain ratio, and reduced to tantalum in a vacuum.

4 Tantalum can also be obtained by thermal decomposition or hydrogen reduction of chloride. The dense metal crucible can be prepared by vacuum arc, electron beam, plasma beam melting or powder metallurgy.

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Multiple Applications of Silver

Medical uses of silver

Silver is used in many medical applications due to its antibacterial properties. Most medical devices, such as bandages, wound cleansers, catheters, pacemakers, valves and feeding tubes, that comes into contact with the body contain silver. The hospital also uses silver in air ducts to prevent certain conditions, such as Legionnaires Disease.

Silver for textiles

The thermal and biological properties of silver make it an ideal choice for the commercial textile industry. Silver is used in the anti-microbial properties of high-end sportswear to inhibit the growth of bacteria that can cause odors. Traditionally, silver and gold threads have been woven into clothing.

silver-for-textiles

Silver for food and water

Silver will play an important role in the food industry in the next decade. The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the addition of silver to bottled water to help kill bacteria, which opened the door for major municipalities to use white water for clean water at local communities, cities and state levels. Silver tip cutting tools are used for meat processing. It is also used in the processing of milk, cheese making and baking.

Silver superconductor

Another important use of silver is as a superconductor, mainly for large industrial and military electric motors. For a while, silver was used as a strategic reserve for military applications.

Other applications of silver

In addition to the above aspects, silver has many other uses. Silver is used as a wood preservative. Silver sputtering targets and silver evaporating materials are used for vacuum coating. The silver coating plays a key role in the solar power industry. Solar cells coated with silver absorb light and convert it into electricity.

silver-sputtering-coating

From the perspective of industrial applications, the future of silver is indeed very obvious. Many industrial applications will continue to use silver, and many new applications for silver will continue to grow at a significant rate.

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Molybdenum Application for Metallurgy

Molybdenum, a silvery-grey metal, does not seem to be as popular as tit anium, aluminum, and platinum. But it is actually a very widely used metal in our life. Today, we will introduce the application of molybdenum in metallurgy.

molybdenum-application-in-metallurgy
Molybdenum in Metallurgy

Steel Metallurgy

The main use of molybdenum for metallurgy is to produce various types of steel and alloys. The addition of molybdenum (mainly in the form of ferromolybdenum, molybdenum oxide, and calcium molybdate) to a range of steels such as structural steel, spring steel, bearing steel, tool steel, stainless steel, and magnetic steel can significantly improve the properties of steel.

Functions

Molybdenum improves the hardenability, toughness and heat strength of steel and prevents temper brittleness. It also improves the corrosion resistance of steel to certain media so that it does not pit. In addition, adding molybdenum into the cast iron enhances the strength and wear resistance of the cast iron.

Nonferrous Metallurgy

In non-ferrous metal alloys, molybdenum can be alloyed with metals such as nickel, cobalt, ruthenium, aluminum, and titanium. These molybdenum alloys are used in the electronics, electrical industry, and machinery industries to make filament and tube parts for light bulbs; they can also be used to make parts such as electromagnetic contacts, gas engine blades, valve protection, and electric furnace resistance.

nickel molybdenum alloy
Nickel Molybdenum Alloy
Functions

Molybdenum can improve the heat resistance and corrosion resistance of non-ferrous alloys and is an important element of nonferrous metallurgy.

Metal Processing

Molybdenum and its alloys can be used in a variety of molds, cores, perforated bars, tool holders and chill plates for metalworking.

Functions

Tools made of molybdenum can improve the processing speed and feed rate of metal processing, reduce the wear and deformation of metal parts, and thus extend the service life of the workpiece. These tools can also be used to machine large-sized parts and improve the accuracy of the workpiece.

Resistance welding electrodes made of molybdenum can be used for electronic brazing and welding of copper, brass and other materials with high thermal conductivity.

The molybdenum tip has a long service life and does not contaminate the workpiece, so it is suitable for processing electronic products.

Molybdenum can be used to make test dies for steel samples, which is very durable.

In addition, some metals require high temperature treatment in hydrogen, inert gas or vacuum, and molybdenum boats are ideal containers for holding such metals.

Molybdenum Boat
Molybdenum Boat

SAM Sputter Targets Corporation is a global evaporation material and sputtering target manufacturing company. Please visit https://www.sputtertargets.net/ for more information.

Holmium Oxide Introduction (Properties & Applications)

Overview

Holmium oxide is a chemical compound of rare-earth element holmium and oxygen with the formula Ho2O3. Together with dysprosium oxide, it is considered one of the most paramagnetic substances known. Holmium oxide is one of the constituents of erbium oxide minerals. In the natural state, holmium oxide often coexists with trivalent oxides of lanthanides, and we need special methods to separate them. Holmium oxide can be used to prepare a glass of a particular color. The visible absorption spectrum of Ho2O3-containing glasses and solutions has a series of sharp peaks and is therefore traditionally used as a standard for spectroscopic calibration.

Properties

Appearance  Light yellow or yellow powder, belonging to the equiaxed crystal yttria type structure
Density (g/mL, 25 ° C)  8.16
Melting point (° C)  2415
Boiling point (° C, atmospheric pressure)  3900
Solubility  insoluble in water, soluble in acid
Chemical reaction  Ho2O3+ 6 NH4Cl → 2 HoCl3+ 6 NH3+ 3 H2O

Applications

It is used to manufacture new light source xenon lamps, and can also be used as an additive for yttrium iron obtained from yttrium aluminum garnet and to prepare metal holmium. Holmium oxide can be used as a yellow and red colorant for Soviet diamonds and glass. Glass containing holmium oxide and holmium oxide solution (often perchloric acid solution) have sharp absorption peaks in the spectrum of 200-900 nm, and thus can be used as a standard for spectrometer calibration and have been commercialized. Like other rare earth elements, cerium oxide is also used as a special catalyst, phosphor, laser and coating material (sputtering targets & evaporation materials).

Holmium Oxide (Ho2O3) Sputtering Target

Holmium oxide sputtering targets

Holmium oxide sputtering targets with the highest quality can be used in semiconductor, chemical vapor deposition (CVD) and physical vapor deposition (PVD) applications. Stanford Advanced Materials (SAM) Sputtering Target Manufacturer offers target bonding service, reclaim service and customized service, which can help you make full use of the coating materials.

Please visit https://www.sputtertargets.net/ for more information.

Gadolinium Oxide Products (Powder & Coating Materials & Microcrystal )

Rare earth oxides (REOs) have gained more and more attention due to their unique magnetic, luminescent, and electrochemical properties. They are used for applications in various industries such as nuclear, electronics, lasers, and etc. Among them, although Gadolinium oxide (Gd2O3) is not the most widely used REOs, but is the most researched one.

The key property of Gadolinium Oxide

Chemical formula Gd2O3
Molar mass 362.50 g/mol
Magnetic susceptibility +53,200·10−6 cm3/mol
Density 7.41 (g/cm3)
Melting Point 2330  (°C)

Gadolinium oxide preparation

Gadolinium oxide can be formed by thermal decomposition of the hydroxide, nitrate, carbonate, or oxalates. Specifically, first, use monazite or a mixed rare earth ore as the raw material. Then Extract and purify the ore to prepare the samarium-gadolinium mixed rare earth solution. Use oxalic acid to precipitate gadolinium oxalic acid. Then separate, dry, and burn the gadolinium oxalic acid to obtain gadolinium oxide.

Gadolinium oxide powder

Gadolinium oxide is a white powder. It is insoluble in water but soluble in acid. It easily absorbs moisture and carbon dioxide from the air. It can be used as a raw material for various fluorescent compounds, absorption material in atomic reactions, nuclear fuels, magnetic bubble material, screen-sensitivity increasing material, as well as many other applications in the chemical, glass and electronic industries.

Gadolinium Oxide (Gd2O3) Powder
Gadolinium Oxide (Gd2O3) Powder

Gadolinium oxide sputtering target

Gadolinium oxide sputtering target is the product made of gadolinium oxide materials by casting or powder metallurgy. Common shapes of the gadolinium oxide sputter targets are planar, circular, rotary, and rectangular. In general, planar targets are cheaper but rotary targets have a higher utilization rate. Gadolinium oxide sputtering target is specially used in the sputtering process (a method of physical vapor deposition) to form a film on the substrate of glass, metal or other materials. Its purpose is either to protect the substrate or improve its properties.

Gadolinium Oxide (Gd2O3) Sputtering Target
Gadolinium Oxide (Gd2O3) Sputtering Target

Gadolinium oxide microcrystal

Gadolinium oxide microcrystal is defined as the gadolinium oxide nanomaterial with at least one direction usually in the range of 1–100 nm. These materials have different physical, chemical, and electrical properties in comparison with traditional bulk gadolinium oxide materials. These nanomaterials have the crystallographic stability up to temperatures of 2325°C, high mechanical strength, excellent thermal conductivity, and a wide band optical gap. Thus, they are used for new products and applications and may also be incorporated into various industrial processes in the nuclear industry, electronics, lasers, and optical material.

Gadolinium Oxide (Gd2O3) Nanomaterial
Gadolinium Oxide (Gd2O3) Nanomaterial

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Who discovered Iridium? | History of Metal

 

Iridium, a very hard, brittle, silvery-white transition metal of the platinum group, is the second-densest metal (after osmium) with a density of 22.56 g/cm3 as defined by experimental X-ray crystallography.

Iridium

Discovery

Smithson Tennant

Smithson TennantIridium was discovered together with osmium in1803 by English chemist Smithson Tennant in London. When crude platinum was dissolved in dilute aqua regia (a mixture of nitric and hydrochloric acids), it left behind a black residue. Because of the black color, it was initially thought to be graphite. By treating it alternately with alkalis and acids, Tennant was able to separate it into two new elements. These he announced at the Royal Institution in London, naming one iridium (comeing from the Latin word ‘iris’, meaning rainbow) because many of its salts were so colorful; and the other osmium (derived from osme, the Greek word for smell) because it had a curious odor.

Specification

Name Iridium
Symbol Ir
Color silvery-white
CAS number 7439-88-5
Melting point 2446°C, 4435°F, 2719 K
Boiling point 4428°C, 8002°F, 4701 K
Density (g cm−3) 22.5622

Feature

Iridium is a rare, hard, lustrous, brittle, very dense platinum-like metal. Chemically it is almost as unreactive as gold. It is the most corrosion-resistant metal known and it resists attack by any acid. Iridium is generally credited with being the second densest element (after osmium) based on measured density, although calculations involving the space lattices of the elements show that iridium is denser.

Application

Due to its good corrosion-resistance, it is used of as a hardening agent for special alloy or to form an alloy with osmium, which is used for bearing compass and tipping pens.

Iridium Application

Iridium is used in making Iridium crucibles and other equipment that is used at high temperatures. Iridium sputtering target is a coating material to produce Iridium film, which is used as protective film or heavy-duty electrical contacts. In addition, Iridium was used in making the international standard kilogram, which is an alloy of 90% platinum and 10% iridium.

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Reference: “Iridium.” Chemicool Periodic Table. Chemicool.com. 17 Oct. 2012. Web. 3/21/2019 <https://www.chemicool.com/elements/iridium.html>.

Planar Sputtering Target: Pros and Cons

Although the rotary targets have developed in recent years, the mainstream shape of the sputtering target is still the planar type. Today let us take a look at the pros and cons of planar targets to help you determine whether a planar sputtering target is suitable for your project.

Advantages of Planar Sputter Target

Simple structure – one of the main advantages of the planar target is that the structure is simple. The common planar targets on the market are rectangular planar targets and circular planar targets, which are easily produced by molds. In other words, planar target preparation requires fewer machines and technologies and is easier to prepare. This is why planar targets still dominate the sputtering target market.

Planar sputtering target mould
Molds

Low price – You can never deny that the price is always an important competitive factor. As mentioned above, the manufacturing process of the planar sputter target is easier, so its price is much lower than the rotatory sputter target.

Strong versatility – Planar sputtering targets usually have strong versatility. Therefore, the transportation of the planar targets is relatively simple and is not easily damaged during transportation.

Good uniformity and repeatability – Film layers sputtered by planar targets usually boast good uniformity and repeatability. Planar targets are still best suited for prototype work or elemental experimentation, especially when large amounts of material are not needed at once.

Disadvantages of Planar Sputter Target

Its biggest disadvantage is the low utilization rate (generally only about 20%).  In the sputtering process of the planar target,  a strip-shaped pit will be formed when the target of the glow region (the magnetic field distribution region) is consumed to a certain extent, making the target body thinner. And once the pit depth reaches a certain value, the target cannot be utilized anymore. The low utilization rate also reduces its price advantage to some extent.

In conclusion, planar targets are still the best choice for prototype work or elemental experimentation, especially when large amounts of material are not needed at once. But its disadvantage of low utilization rate (20% vs. 80% compared with the rotatory target) does constrain its development.

Next week, let us look at the biggest competitor of the planar target– the rotatory target. Weighting the pros and cons of these two types of sputtering target may help you better choose the one for your application.

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