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Platinum’s use as an actuator material is being investigated

8th December 2023

By: Darren Parker

Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online

     

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Nanoporous platinum, a platinum matrix containing tiny pores to increase energy conduction, has recently been created in large quantities for the first time, for trial use as an actuator material, the World Platinum Investment Council (WPIC) says.

An ultrafine-ligament nanoporous platinum material composed of a random, interconnected network of extremely fine platinum strands, or ligaments, as small as two nanometres in diameter, was created by material scientists at Hamburg University of Technology, in Germany.

The movement of electrons or charged atoms through the material is enhanced by the tiny pores that this network also forms between the strands. The team developed a unique manufacturing technique that significantly reduced the cost of synthesising the material.

The performance of the material as an actuator was significantly improved by reducing the diameter of the platinum strands, as this increases the nanoporous material's mechanical stability and surface-to-volume ratio.

The researchers published their study in the scientific journal Energy Materials and Devices.

Actuators are common machine components that convert energy into movement, like the muscles in the human body, vibrator motors in mobile phones, or electric motors. 

Ideal actuator materials need good electrochemical properties to repeatedly conduct electrical currents made of flowing electrons. In addition, actuator materials require excellent mechanical properties to withstand the physical stress associated with continual movement.

Compared with other nanoporous metals and materials being investigated for their potential use as actuators, nanoporous platinum was found to be physically more robust, indicating that it has the potential to work well as a sensor or detector material. 

Another scientific breakthrough highlighted by the WPIC was the first high-entropy alloy powder using only precious metals being successfully fabricated by precious metals manufacturer Tanaka Precious Metals, comprising platinum, palladium, ruthenium, iridium and rhodium. 

Platinum group metal (PGM) alloys are already made for a variety of reasons. Usually, the purpose is to enhance certain characteristics such as electrical conductivity, corrosion resistance, mechanical strength or temperature resistance, making the alloy more useful than the original individual elements.

However, in some cases, a combination of PGMs may reduce the overall cost of the material while preserving important properties. 

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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