6 Uses of Gold You Probably Don’t Know About
Gold is one of the most desired and multi-functional metals available in the world. The metal itself is malleable into various shapes and sizes to suit different needs, from personal investment to components in a computer. The precious yellow metal is an excellent conductor of electricity hence its usage in computer processors.
Traditionally, when we think of gold, the first few things that come to mind are jewellery and signs of wealth. While these thoughts remain in existence today, the metal itself has transcended from its superficial uses. Gold today is in even higher demand by various dentistry, aeronautical, electronics companies, etc.
Earliest Applications of Gold
When ancient civilisations first discovered gold, it was as though it was love at first sight. The metal’s beauty and malleability enabled them to make a variety of items. Past civilisations would use gold to make ornaments, jewellery, statues, and religious artefacts to display wealth and status.
The progression of civilisations enabled gold to be a medium of exchange which replaced the barter system that was difficult to facilitate trade. Gold was crowned the first form of money due to its portability, measurability, and universal acceptance.
Today’s Applications of Gold
1. Gold in electronics
As mentioned earlier in the article, gold is a great conductor of electricity.
Typical electronic devices that use fractions of gold include handphones and computers. Most electronic devices today require low voltages to operate while combating issues of rust and corrosion. The properties of gold compared to other metals enable a smooth flow of current passing through without rust or corrosion issues.
Fun Fact: There are small amounts of gold in almost every electronic device you own. Close to a billion mobile phones are produced each year, and most contain roughly 50 cents (USD) worth of gold!
2. Gold in dentistry
Interestingly, gold was used in dentistry as far back as 700 B.C!
Gold is used in dentistry because it’s non-allergenic. It does not cause any allergies or reactions when it comes into contact with the human body. Its softness makes it easy for dentists to shape into orthodontic moulds such as:
Grills (primarily for aesthetic reasons)
3. Gold in the medicinal industry
Gold’s medical applications are too extensive to be listed here, but some common uses include: –
Medical diagnoses: – Small traces of gold consumed by an individual enable traceability of cancer cells when conducting an MRI scan.
Medical drugs: – Gold nanoparticles in some pills are known to battle stomach ulcers and chronic arthritis.
Cancer treatment: – Gold particles are injected into tissues to help serve as a radiation source in chemotherapy treatment.
4. Gold in aerospace technology
Space itself contains a dangerous amount of radiation that affect astronauts and their equipment. Prolonged exposure to radiation causes temperatures to rise and electronic equipment to disintegrate.
Gold is valued in aerospace technology because it effectively reflects radiation. Such as in satellites, gold foils help with thermal control and protects onboard instruments from the extreme temperatures of space.
For astronauts, thin gold films are applied on helmet screens to protect their eyes from sunlight and faces from radiation. Gold coatings are also used on spaceships and satellites to deflect heat.
5. Gold as awards and medals
Fun Fact: Most Olympic gold medals are more than 90% silver with only about 6 grams of pure gold plating.
One of the more popular commercial uses of gold is as trophies and medals. Olympians that surpass their competition from various countries are awarded gold trophies or medals.
6. Gold leaf and glassmaking
A lesser-known use of gold is glassmaking, and gold leaves and gold foils are used entirely for decorative purposes.
Gold glassmaking incorporates thin gold leaves fused between two layers of glass. It is a form of luxury glassware renown for its beautiful gold designs. Artists use gold leaves also to decorate mirrors, tableware, chandeliers, cups, and many others.
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