Innovations & Technology

Some things never change! Ten thousand years ago, cave dwellers decided to use copper to make axes to use as weapons and tools for survival. Today, high tech surgeons are able to save lives and precious blood by using copper-clad scalpels. The copper actually conducts an electric current that heats the scalpel to make it self-cauterizing. It's amazing all the things we use copper for. Here are a few novel applications:

Computer Chips

We are constantly finding new and inventive uses for copper - especially in technology. This is due to the fact that copper is one of the best conductors of electricity, making it heralded by all computer chip manufacturers. For many years no one was able to produce a marketable copper chip, but in the last few years chip technology has reached groundbreaking new levels. It is now possible for chip makers to use copper wires, rather than traditional aluminum interconnects, to link transistors in chips.

IBM and Motorola plan to replace aluminum with copper in the computer chips they manufacture. This breakthrough technology enables conductor channel lengths and widths to be significantly reduced. The result is much faster operating speeds and greater circuit integration - up to 200 million transistors can be packed onto a single chip.

The use of copper conductors in chips is the last link in a now unbroken copper chain comprising the electric data path between user and computer. From external cables and connectors to bus ways to printed circuit boards, sockets and leadframes, it's all copper.

Big Copper Buddha

New uses for copper are not necessarily technology-related, though. For example, when looking to build the world's biggest statue, China turned to bronze. It will soon be the world's biggest statue - a 509-foot copper Buddha, more than three times as tall as the 151-foot Statue of Liberty.

The enormous Buddha will sit far atop Jiuhua Mountain where it can be seen for hundreds of miles. The 1,000-ton bronze statue is estimated to cost $18 million and is expected to be completed by 2004.

Back to Top

Copper and Cars

Copper is very important for cars, for example, there's more than 55 pounds of copper in a typical U.S.-built automobile: about 45 pounds for electrical and about 10 pounds for nonelectrical components.

Today's luxury cars, on average, contain some 1,500 copper wires totaling about one mile in length, thanks to continuing improvements in electronics and the addition of power accessories. In 1948, the average family car contained only about 55 wires amounting to an average total length of 150 feet.

Just as electronics and power accessories have improved - with a little help from copper - other automobile applications have begun experimenting and using copper-based products over others as well.

CuproBraze is the name of a new manufacturing process for copper-and-brass automotive radiators. The process uses fluxless, lead-free brazing, anneal resistant alloys and laser welding among other innovations to produce new thin-walled radiators that perform better than thicker-walled aluminum products.

CuproBraze radiators are typically 30% to 40% lighter than traditional copper and brass models, can be made smaller than their aluminum counterparts, and can provide up to 30% less air-side pressure drop. The CuproBraze process also shortens manufacturing time, is environmentally-friendly and reduces production costs. The process was developed by the International Copper Association.

Back to Top

And did you know...

The body of the 1921 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost is completely copper. Nearly all of the car's engine hardware is solid brass. And, of course, it has a copper and brass radiator. The Franklin Mint offers a precision scale model. The National Transportation Museum in Reno, Nevada, displays the classic restored Rolls.

Learn more about the RISIS process, an innovative process using copper to preserve nature's beauties.


Back to Top

Home Planning Series

Home Planning Series features a set of articles specifically developed to provide useful information on various applications and use areas within a home. Selected articles related to copper innovations and technology applications areas are presented here:

Back to Top

Discover Copper

Although created for reporters and editors, Discover Copper contains stories of general interest about the many innovative ways that copper is used today: