Researchers Create 18-carat Gold from Plastic

Sunday, January 12, 2020 - 11:05

Researchers of ETH Zurich have created an incredibly lightweight 18-carat gold, using a matrix of plastic in place of metallic alloy elements.

According to the phys.org report, instead of a metal alloy element, researchers used protein fibers and polymer latex to form a matrix in which they embedded thin discs of gold nanocrystals. In addition, the lightweight gold contains countless tiny air pockets invisible to the eye.

Formerly a postdoc in the ETH lab headed by Raffaele Mezzenga, Professor of Food and Soft Materials, Leonie van 't Hag set to create a new form of gold that weighs about five to ten times less than traditional 18-carat gold.

"This gold has the material properties of a plastic," Mezzenga says. If a piece of it falls onto a hard surface, it sounds like plastic. But it glimmers like metallic gold, and can be polished and worked into the desired form.

"As a general rule, our approach lets us create almost any kind of gold we choose, in line with the desired properties," Mezzenga says.

The researchers' study on this process has been published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.

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