A method of ball-milling iron powders in liquid nitrogen and ammonia to manufacture iron nitride could make transformers up to 10 times smaller than they are currently, say researchers from Sandia.

Smaller, thinner, lighter…repeat. The Holy Grail of electronics is the eternal quest for that which is even smaller than the part it replaces. (One notable exception is mobile phones. Fortunately for anyone over 40, streaming video intervened and drove demand for ever-larger screens and comfortable form factors for texting.) From discrete parts like connectors to finished consumer goods like speakers, last year’s model is simply too large and bulky. Oh, and while you’re at it, add in smart and wireless technologies.

While the Sandia team can’t yet sinter via Bluetooth, its low-temperature field-assisted sintering technique (FAST) converts the raw materials into transformer cores in minutes. “FAST enables the net-shaping of parts, meaning that iron nitride powders can be sintered directly into perfectly sized parts, such as transformer cores, which don’t require any machining,” says Sandia researcher Todd Monson of Nanoscale Sciences Department in a report on the technology. The transformer cores only require air cooling, further reducing the overall form factor.

One Magazine, 45 Different Languages

Tangible electronics are not the only thing to do more in less space. Did you know that you can read Process Heating in any of 45 different languages — all using the same exact edition? You can find this feature in our digital editions, which are online versions that recreate our printed page in a digital format, then sprinkle in extra features such as translations.

Translations of the digital edition articles are provided using Google Translate. (Sign in or register for our website to get access to our digital editions at http://www.process-heating.com/digitaleditions.) To use the translation tool, turn to the page of an article in a digital edition, then click on the heading to bring up the text version. From there, you will see a “Change Language” drop-down menu in the top right corner, where you will have the ability to select from 45 different languages. You can copy and paste from this text version as well.