Connectors made from base metals can be made to perform with contact properties similar to those of gold using a technique devised at the University of Connecticut, scientists say.
Mark Aindow and S Pamir Alpay are professors of materials science and engineering at the academic institution, while Joseph Mantese is a fellow of United Technologies Research Center.
Together they have looked into ways to make iron, nickel and copper perform as connectors to a similar standard as that of gold, silver, palladium, platinum and rhodium.
Called the noble metals, the latter group is desirable for connectors due to its resistance to oxidation and corrosion, combined with excellent levels of conductivity.
Mr Aindow says: "We used a combination of theoretical analysis to select the appropriate constituents and materials engineering at the atomic level to create designer materials."
Improvements in conductivity of one million times have been achieved using techniques such as electron and polaron hopping, phase separation of conducting pathways and doping to enhance carrier concentration.
The University of Connecticut says that its community of salutatorians, valedictorians and honours students continues to grow over time, with a more diverse profile also emerging.