Approximately 11% of all gold produced is used for industrial use. Gold, a precious metal known for its allure and value also plays a significant role in various industrial applications.
Its unique properties, such as excellent conductivity, resistance to corrosion, and biocompatibility, make it an invaluable resource in many fields. The role of gold in industrial use includes sectors such as electronics, dentistry, aerospace, and medicine.
Gold in Electronics
Gold’s exceptionally high electrical conductivity ensures it is a preferred material for connectors, switches, and other critical electronic components. Its reliability under extreme conditions enhances the performance and longevity of devices.
Smartphones, for instance, contain about 50 milligrams of gold, essential for their electrical connections
From smartphones to sophisticated computing machinery, gold-based materials ensure efficiency and durability. The metal’s use in semiconductors and microchips highlights its importance in the advancing tech industry.
Gold in Dentistry
Gold’s durability, resistance to tarnish, and prevention of corrosion in the long term, coupled with its biocompatibility, make it an ideal choice for dental fillings, crowns, and bridges. Its use in dentistry dates back thousands of years, yet it remains relevant in modern practices. Tooth restorations such as porcelain veneered copings for crowns and bridgework can be electroformed with pure gold.
Technological advancements have refined the use of gold in dentistry, offering patients durable and aesthetic solutions to dental issues.
Gold in Aerospace Engineering
The aerospace industry values gold for its corrosion resistance and exceptional thermal management properties, critical in the extreme conditions of space. Gold reflects up to 98 percent of infrared radiation, gold has applications in the defence and aerospace industries as well.
Gold-coated parts, including satellite components and astronaut visors, exemplify the metal’s role in protecting equipment and personnel in space.
Astronaut helmets, for example, are often coated with a thin layer of gold to filter out the sun’s harmful rays
This demonstrating gold’s protective qualities in space exploration equipment.
Gold in Medicine
Gold’s application in medicine ranges from diagnostic procedures to treatment, including its use in radiology and targeted drug delivery systems.
Nowadays, gold compounds are utilised to treat rheumatoid arthritis; gold alloys are employed in implants in a variety of medical disciplines; and colloid gold is used in immunegold electron microscopy.
The advent of gold nanotechnology offers promising advancements in cancer treatment and diagnostic imaging, showcasing the metal’s potential in innovative medical solutions.
Gold in Environmental Technologies
Gold’s catalytic properties are leveraged in chemical reactions to reduce environmental pollutants, marking its contribution to cleaner production methods. For example, gold nanoparticles can catalyse the oxidation of CO to carbon dioxide (CO2) at room temperature, effectively reducing the concentration of this toxic gas in the air. This application is particularly relevant in enclosed spaces and industrial settings where CO can accumulate to dangerous levels.
The use of gold in water purification systems exemplifies its role in addressing global water scarcity and quality issues, providing safe drinking water through efficient and sustainable technologies
Gold nanoparticles are used to detect and break down contaminants in water, offering a powerful tool for improving water quality. Their high surface area relative to their size allows for the efficient absorption and breakdown of pollutants, including organic compounds and heavy metals.
Moreover, the use of gold in environmental technologies encourages the circular economy concept, where the value of materials is maintained for as long as possible. Recycling gold from electronic waste and other sources for use in environmental applications is a step towards reducing the environmental impact of gold mining and promoting sustainable material usage.
Gold in the Future
Looking ahead, gold’s applications in renewable energy, such as in solar panels where gold is used to improve electrical conductivity, and in wearable technology, where gold’s flexibility and conductive properties enable the creation of electronic textiles, signal its growing importance in the evolution of industry.
Gold’s potential in green technologies is further demonstrated by its use in organic photovoltaic cells. This is used for more efficient solar energy conversion, highlighting its role in the transition towards sustainable energy solutions.
Benefits of OPVs:
- OPVs offer the advantage of being lighter
- It is also more flexible
- It also has the potentially cheaper to manufacture than traditional silicon-based solar cells.
Gold’s role in OPVs lies in its ability to facilitate more efficient solar energy conversion, thereby improving the performance and viability of these green technologies. As the demand for sustainable energy solutions grows, gold’s contribution to the advancement of solar technology underscores its importance in the transition towards cleaner energy sources.
The flexibility and conductive properties of gold are also paving the way for innovations in wearable technology. Electronic textiles, or e-textiles, integrate electronic components into fabric to create clothing that can monitor health, track fitness, or even change colour or temperature. Gold’s ability to withstand bending and stretching without breaking makes it an excellent choice for creating conductive threads and components in these smart fabrics. Its reliability and efficiency in conducting electrical signals ensure that wearable devices are not only functional but also durable and comfortable to wear.
Gold’s industrial applications extend far beyond its traditional roles, demonstrating its versatility and indispensability in modern industry. Its unique properties enable advancements across a broad spectrum of fields, ensuring that gold remains a key material in the development of innovative and sustainable technologies.
1) Is there also industrial use for silver?
Yes, silver is also used for indsutrial uses. Read more about how silver is used electronic devices, medicine and healthcare, and more here.