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May 7th, 2006
A new environmental chamber constructed by Argonne's Materials Science Division allows researchers to watch materials as they grow step-by-step while interacting in elevated-temperature, reactive-gas environments. The first experiment in the new chamber revealed intriguing information about how copper oxidizes at the nano-level and established a new basic model for understanding oxidation.
The initial study found that clean copper surfaces are more resistant to oxidation than previously expected when exposed to oxygen. These findings could lead to improved electronic components. Industry is interested in using copper in some devices that are processed at high temperatures with oxygen present, but has been concerned that the copper might oxidize, leading to degraded electrical properties.
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