Translator:Henyee TranslationsEditor:Henyee Translations
Jinling Institute for Advanced Study.
Institute of Computational Materials.
Yang Xu brought Lu Zhou to the laboratory. He sat in front of the computer with the experiment data and spoke emotionally.
This is incredible
Lu Zhou didnt ask what was exactly incredible. Instead, he asked, What material is this thing?
Silver. Yang Xu took a deep breath and said, More specifically, silver and graphene!
Silver and graphene? Lu Zhou looked at Yang Xu in disbelief and said, This thing is silver and graphene?
He remembered reading similar theses before.
However, because he didnt do a lot of research on metal materials, he couldnt remember where he read the theses.
Honestly, when he heard that there were only these two materials, he was a little disappointed. Even though he knew that an advanced civilization probably wouldnt build a wire with expensive materials, he still didnt expect the materials to be so ordinary.
However, Yang Xu was speechless.
What do you mean just these two materials, this is already very nutty.
He tapped on the keyboard as if to prove his point.
Soon, a transmission electron microscope image appeared on the screen.
On the image, the black and gray sections were interlaced, and there was a neat and delicate texture interwoven in the two-dimensional space of the plane. This completely revealed the secret of the nano-scale silver wire.
Yang Xu pointed at a few key areas of the image and didnt explain a lot. He just said, Look at these areas and youll understand.
Lu Zhou leaned toward the computer screen and looked at the direction of Yang Xus finger.
He saw that in the 1-5 nm particle size range, there was a single layer of graphene that had bonded together with the silver atoms.
Lu Zhous eyebrows furrowed.
Even though he didnt do a lot of research on metal materials, he could still see the abnormality in this.
This wasnt something they could consider manufacturing.
It was a problem of whether or not they could even find the technology to manufacture this material
Producing graphene alloys based on metal materials required bonding between metal nanoparticles and graphene.
This could only be achieved with powder metallurgy technology. However, even powder metallurgy technology couldnt bond graphene and silver nanoparticles to such a perfect degree.
It was not an exaggeration to say that this thin silver wire was a piece of art.
Seeing that Lu Zhou didnt speak, Yang Xu continued to speak emotionally, Powder metallurgy is relatively new and unpopular, and I dont know a lot about it. However, using the current 3D printing technology as an example, the best metal powder is around 10,000 mesh, which is around 13 micrometers in diameter. The powder used in ceramic materials might be finer, but its still on the micrometer scale.
Even though some laboratories are able to achieve ultra-fine 20 nm powder This is almost impossible to store under normal conditions, let alone bonding with graphene.
Not only was it difficult to prepare, it was difficult to filter the powder and even more difficult to store.
The higher the mesh measurement, the smaller the particle size, the easier it was to oxidize. Also, it was more likely to agglomerate.
The only two possible ideas that might seem to work were either to disperse it in a special way while smelting or to mix it directly with graphene crumbs while producing the powder.
Yang Xu leaned against his chair and sighed.
As you can see, the difficult part isnt the technology itself, but rather the production process. Countless papers on composite materials like Ag/GF, AG/GO, AGFe/rGO, etc have appeared due to the rapid development of the electronic industry.
For example, the indium tin oxide used for making mobile phone screens has fragile properties, and many scholars have proposed combining silver nanowires with graphene to develop a new generation of flexible phone screens. According to the current limited experimental data, the mechanical properties of this material are quite excellent, and the electrical resistivity is much lower than that of metals When I was a postdoc at MIT, there was a laboratory that specialized in this research.
Lu Zhou looked up from the computer screen and asked, Then what happened?
Yang Xu shrugged and said, Im not sure, but I guess the project couldnt continue. Indium tin oxide isnt cheap, and silver is even more expensive. Even if the technology is made, most people wouldnt be able to use it.
Lu Zhou had a strange look on his face.
If using silver in mobile screens is considered expensive, then whats the point of using silver in electric wires?
However, Lu Zhou remembered that if an advanced civilization could achieve space travel, space mining would probably be a piece of cake.
For a civilization that had this kind of technology, the price of silver might only be slightly more expensive than copper.
Yang Xu looked at the data on the computer screen. His eyes were filled with curiosity.
After hesitating for a bit, he couldnt help but ask, Where did you get this thing?
He had the same feeling as Lu Zhou.
In his opinion, this thumb-sized silver wire was a work of art!
It was no exaggeration to say that its existence alone could change the industrys perception of metallurgical technology.
However, Lu Zhou didnt answer his question. He just said, Its a national secret, just help me reverse engineer it. Its better if you dont know its origin.
Lu Zhou didnt explain too much because there was no need.
Even before winning the Ling Yun medal, he didnt have to explain anything to anyone.
Even if he did need to explain something, he only needed to explain it to one personthe president.
And that would only happen in a special circumstance.
Which was if something seriously jeopardized national security.
Other than that, it was not an exaggeration to say that even those responsible for his security, responsible for keeping secrets, had no right of knowing the secret itself.
When Lu Zhou saw Yang Xus look of surprise, he was secretly glad.
Thankfully, he only cut a small piece of the wire.
If Yang Xu knew that he had a pile of this kind of stuff, Yang Xu would start having doubts about his life.
Yang Xu shrugged and reluctantly accepted this explanation.
If it was actually confidential, then it would be better if he didnt know.
Yang Xu paused for a second before he continued, But its not easy to reverse engineer this stuff. At least for now, I cant think of a way to produce this thing.
Lu Zhou: What about producing nanometer-scale silver particles?
Yang Xu hesitated for a bit and said, Its still difficult, but if you are interested, we can try it. However
Lu Zhou: However?
However, whats the point? Yang Xu said, Even though I admit that the resistivity of Ag/GF materials is excellent, due to the sheer price of silver, it almost has zero industrial application.
It would take a lot of effort to understand the mystery, and it would at most produce a beautiful thesis.
Even though this kind of thing might be of interest to normal researchers, for people like Yang Xu and Lu Zhou, there was no point.
After all, unlike mathematics and physics, materials science itself was an application-based discipline
Lu Zhou thought for a long time.
Honestly, he was also hesitant on whether or not this technology had any value.
However, Lu Zhou made up his mind and said, I cant answer this question, at least not right now.
But my intuition is telling me that this is worth researching.