1. Question: David, you’ve been making mechanical mods for nearly four years now, why did you switch from non-coated brass battery/switch/atomizer contacts to Rhodium over Gold Plated Brass Contacts?
Answer: Brass (as well as aluminum, silver and copper) are highly conductive materials with a glaring detriment, they readily interact with oxygen and moisture on a molecular level, a process called oxidation (often also referred to rusting, corrosion or tarnishing). Most all non precious metals oxidize, even stainless steel, albeit very slowly compared to brass, aluminum, silver copper etc.
2. Question: What is Rhodium?
Answer: - Rhodium is one of the rarest and most expensive Precious metals.
- It is a non oxidizing metal; oxygen and moisture have no effect on it. It will not oxidize, tarnish, or corrode.
- Rhodium is impervious to most acids.
- Rhodium is extremely hard, with over 4 times the hardness rating of Gold and silver, which is very important due to the high friction and pressure loads electrical contacts in a mechanical mod encounter.
-Rhodium is extremely resistant to electrical arcing. Electrical arcing occurs when electricity jumps the gap just before and after a switch makes contact and this electrical arcing creates hotspots that oxidize, but since Rhodium is virtually impervious to oxidation, electrical arcing has little to no effect on Rhodium, unlike Nickel, Silver, Brass and copper which are susceptible to the oxidizing effects of electrical arcing.
-Due to Rhodium’s extreme resistance to the effects of electrical arcing and it‘s extremely high melting point (3600+ degrees and a boiling point of 8000+ degrees), it is often used to coat the end of spark plugs which often see 20,000 volts and localized, intermittent temps in excess of 10,000 degrees!
3. Question: What is wrong with oxidation?
Answer: When a metal experiences oxidation, a chemical transformation of the surface layer of the metal occurs, this chemically transformed layer severely impedes the flow of electricity.
4. Question: Can we see Oxidation?
Answer: Oxidation is virtually invisible because it occurs on a molecular level, it is only when it progresses so far that free radicals start breaking away do we actually see it’s effects. But it’s effects to the flow of electrical current begin immediately when these bare metals are exposed to oxygen or moisture.
5. Question: What If we don’t touch the brass, silver, copper etc after we polish it, will it still oxidize/tarnish?
Answer: Yes, it will begin oxidizing immediately after polishing, these metals only require oxygen or moisture to begin oxidation. Introduction of moisture by touching it or humid air will increase the oxidation rate.
6. Question: Can we slow the oxidation process of unplated metals such as brass?
Answer: Yes we can slow it, but not eliminate it and it's only a band aide temporary fix, by applying anti oxidants to a cleaned surface. Anti-oxidants are petroleum based products (which go under many name brands, such a Dexoit Gold, Noalox, Di-Electric Grease, Vaseline etc) that, when applied to metal, help, for a short time, to keep away moisture and oxygen. With Rhodium though, no anti-oxidants ever need to be used as Rhodium is unaffected by moisture or oxygen.
7. Question: Ok, so I think I understand. Untreated bare metals experience oxidation. Oxidation interferes with the flow of electricity, which makes my switch fire inconsistently and lowers the voltage reaching the atomizer. But you still haven’t answered my question, Why Rhodium?
Answer: One of the biggest complaints users of all mechanical mods have is the frequent need to clean the electrical contacts in order to keep their unit firing. We’ve all experienced it; the dreaded push the button and nothing happens. Push harder or twist the button, try again. A few moments pause before our atomizer fires, followed by weak vapor. Arrg, time to clean again! Feedback on all mechanical mods is unequivocal, find a solution, so Super T set about researching a solution to the problem! Enter Rhodium.
8. Question: So the solution to eliminating oxidization was plating the brass contacts with Rhodium, I understand that, but What exactly does the Rhodium do (or not do) that makes my unit hit so consistently and so much harder then my other devices? Is it because it’s so conductive?
Answer: Actually, Rhodium is just an average conductor, it’s purpose is not to conduct per se, that is still the function of the brass base metal over which the Rhodium is applied and Brass is an excellent conductor. The Rhodium, poses virtually no resistance to the flow of electricity as resistance is also dependent on the thickness of the metal electricity has to flow through.
BUT what the Rhodium does do, is provide a oxygen and water proof barrier over the Brass which prevents oxidation of the brass from occurring and since the Rhodium itself also never oxidizes, corrodes or tarnishes, it is always making the best possible electrical connection for the electricity to pass through. Hence, you see no loss in voltage to your atomizer and you experience reliable switch action, hit after hit and the biggest benefit of all, you never have to clean it!