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Scientists Discover Gold ‘As Light As Air’ & 1000x Cheaper

(Kitco News) - In a  time of growing worries over the lack of new gold discoveries, two Switzerland-based researchers appear to have created a new “gold foam” material light enough to float on water and has the potential to be the material of the future.

“I have to admit that the final material that we generated went well beyond our expectations,” professor Raffaele Mezzenga from ETH Zurich university told Kitco News in a phone interview Tuesday.

“This foam really possesses all the optical features of real gold, so if you look at it, you wouldn’t hardly recognize any difference with a massive volume of gold,” he added, referring to a paper published in the Advanced Materials journal.

The material created through Dr. Mezzenga and Dr. Gustav Nyström’s research is made up of protein fibers, and according to Mezzenga, 20-carat gold.

“This is made of micro-crystal, or nanoparticles, so you can control the color, or you can control the shine, you can mold it in any shape you want,” he explained. “It looks like gold and it’s still 20 carats of gold.”

Over 80% of the total mass of the material, Mezzenga continued, is made up of gold, but most of the volume is occupied by air, which is why it is so light.

However, despite this discovery, Mezzenga said it is too early to put a price tag on the newly discovered featherweight gold.

“If you would work out a price there is only the material content. I could say it’s probably 1000 times less expensive than normal gold because it’s 1000 times less dense,” he said.

According to the head of the Institution of Food, Nutrition and Health, Mezzenga said the material could not only be useful for jewelry but also technological applications.

“It’s been really an explosion of interest for this material,” he said, adding that the foam can be used in any type of request as it still qualifies as high purity gold.

“We have conductivity properties [in our product] that depends on the pressure,” he said. “We can squeeze it and it’s conductive, we can reduce it and it’s insulation,” he explained.

Mezzenga noted that he has been contacted for this product to be used in aerospace as well.

“Aerospace is a very promising market,” he said, explaining that weight is a critical consideration for the industry.

However, this is not the end for Mezzenga as he said he has new research coming out soon involving gold.

"First of all, related to gold, yes I am working on this super exciting application of gold," he said, adding that he is unable to elaborate since the paper is on embargo.

“In a few weeks this will become public,” he added.

By Sarah Benali of Kitco News;
Follow me on Twitter @SdBenali



Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect those of Kitco Metals Inc. The author has made every effort to ensure accuracy of information provided; however, neither Kitco Metals Inc. nor the author can guarantee such accuracy. This article is strictly for informational purposes only. It is not a solicitation to make any exchange in precious metal products, commodities, securities or other financial instruments. Kitco Metals Inc. and the author of this article do not accept culpability for losses and/ or damages arising from the use of this publication.
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