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The Science and Technology of Gold

The science and technology of gold is currently going through an exciting period of its history and is leading to new industrial and medical applications of this unique metal. It is unique, not only because of its properties (it is one of only two colored metals, for example, as well as being the most noble and most malleable), but because of its history and its role in society, where it serves as a monetary asset, for adornment, as well as an industrial and decorative metal.

Gold has a unique color and has been prized throughout history for its beauty and value, but it also has an interesting science that we are just beginning to unravel and exploit. Traditional applications have centered mainly on its metallic properties, and its chemistry has been rather overlooked,but that omission is being redressed. The surprising discovery of gold’s catalytic properties in recent years and the development of its nanotechnology are leading to some exciting applications with enormous potential in industry and medicine.

The interest in the science, technology, and applications of gold has grown considerably over recent years, as evidenced by the huge increase in scientific publications in learned journals, the growth in attendance at the series of international gold conferences held since Hanau (it returned to Germany in 2009), and the expansion of readership of the sole journal dedicated to gold, Gold Bulletin. It is interesting to note that over $13 billion worth of gold was used in industrial (and medical) applications in 2007, and consumption in this sector is predicted to grow significantly, much of it in new and green applications. Gold has a significant role to play in our quality of life during the twenty-first century.