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@Kaustubh Katdare • 28 Nov, 2015 • 1 like
Team of scientists at ETH Zurich, led by Prof. Raffaele Mezzenga of food and soft materials, has succeeded in developing the lightest form of gold ever produced. About a 1000x lighter than the most conventional forms of gold, ETH Zurich team is very optimistic about various applications of this new material. The new gold foam looks very similar to that of conventional foam and it's not possible to differentiate between the two with naked eye.

gold-foam-eth-zurich
Photo: Gustav Nyström and Raffaele Mezzenga / ETH Zurich​

What you see in the picture above is a nugget made of 20 carat gold, floating on the cappuccino milk foam. Prof. Mezzenga says that it's a new form of gold that is built using 3D mesh of gold. The material is porous, which makes it lighter than water.

What's even more amazing about the gold foam is that it's got the metallic shine. However, unlike the conventional foam, this material is soft and is malleable by hand. Prof. Mezzenga explains that the material comprises of 98% of air and the remaining is solid material. The solid material part itself comprises of about 80% of gold and the rest is milk protein fibrils. The overall composition of the material is equivalent to about 20 carat gold.

The research team created 'amyloid fibrils', nano-thin protein fibres by heating milk proteins. These fibres were then treated with a solution of gold salt. As the protein fibres interlaced to create a structure, the gold gets crystallised into tiny pieces alongside. The final result is a gel-like network of gold fibre.

The big advantage of this process is that it allows to develop gold aerogels that look like regular gold alloys. The scientists can also change the color of the material by altering the size of the gold particles in the basic structure.

The team believes that the new gold foam can be used in jewellery and in watches. Another use would be as a catalyst in the chemical reactions that are more efficient with the presence of gold. Scientists have also demonstrated that the gold foam can be used to develop special pressure sensors. Read more about the research on the source link below.

Source: ETH Zurich
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