2022-007 – Frequency-Driven Liquid Metal Electromechanical Relay

Background:
Relays are used to control circuits with an independent low-power signal. Electromechanical relays offer high-power throughput, low contact resistance and are relatively insensitive to environmental conditions. However, they rely on a solid-solid mechanical contact which leads to contact corrosion, minimizing their operating life and reliability. Additionally, the mechanical contacts can experience contact bounce which makes them unsuitable for small-signal switching. Solid-state relays eliminate the problems associated with contact bounce or contact corrosion, but they exhibit high resistances and poor heat dissipation, limiting their power throughput. To overcome these challenges, liquid metals were analyzed and determined to readily conform to the modes of vibrating plate, demonstrating their potential in rearrangeable circuits. Additionally, the melting point of liquid metals is tunable through alloying. Due to their high thermal conductivity, liquid metals can then be quickly cooled to a solid for improved electrical resistance and prevent undesired configuration alterations. Based on this, liquid metal relays have been an area of interest for some time as they boast a long operational life, high-power throughput, insensitivity to environmental conditions, and minimal contact degradation. Further optimization has led to the development of micro-liquid metal relays, which minimize the switching time improving their applicability alongside solid-state relays. Yet, liquid metal relays are restricted in their designs and require extensive precautionary care to ensure their durability. Thus, there is a need for a relay that can provide high-power throughput for extended operating life while maintaining sufficient heat dissipation and low resistances.

Technology Description:
Researchers at the University of New Mexico have developed a scalable technique to provide high-power throughput for customizable multi-throw circuits using a frequency-driven liquid metal relay. Rearrangeable liquid metal wires would not suffer from contact corrosion, thus extending their operating life while maintaining sufficient heat dissipation and low resistances. This frequency-driven liquid metal relay principle also applies to the micro- or nanoscale, as metal lines can be formed, broken, and reformed using perpendicularly oriented interdigitated transducers (IDT). The device will illustrate the capability to connect multiple circuits using a single relay and access different permutations of circuit configurations using different applied frequencies.

Website:

https://unm.flintbox.com/technologies/28B8D5DF31AE48749173B80E9E397258

Advantages:

  • Enables robust and highly customizable multi-throw switches capable of a high-power throughput and a long operating life
  • Capability to connect multiple circuits using a single relay and access different permutations of circuit configurations using different applied frequencies
  • Applies to the micro- or nanoscale

Potential Applications:

  • Interdigitated Transducers
  • Motor Control
  • Automotive Applications
  • Industrial Assembly Lines
  • Commercial Equipment

Additional Information:

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Inquiries
UNM Rainforest Innovations has filed intellectual property on this exciting new technology and is currently exploring commercialization options. If you are interested in information about this or other technologies, please contact Arlene Young at ayoung@innovations.unm.edu or 505-272-7886.

About UNM Rainforest Innovations
As the technology-transfer and economic-development organization for the University of New Mexico, UNM Rainforest Innovations protects and commercializes technologies developed at the University of New Mexico (UNM) by filing patents and copyrights and transferring the technologies to the marketplace. We connect the business community (companies, entrepreneurs, and investors) to these UNM technologies for licensing opportunities and the creation of startup companies. Visit http://innovations.unm.edu/

Contact Information:

Name: Andrew Roerick

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Email: aroerick@innovations.unm.edu

Phone: 505-277-0608

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