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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Gold

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platinum ← gold → mercury
Ag

Au

Rg
Element 1: Hydrogen (H), Other non-metal

Element 2: Helium (He), Noble gas
Element 3: Lithium (Li), Alkali metal
Element 4: Beryllium (Be), Alkaline earth metal

Element 5: Boron (B), Metalloid
Element 6: Carbon (C), Other non-metal
Element 7: Nitrogen (N), Other non-metal
Element 8: Oxygen (O), Other non-metal
Element 9: Fluorine (F), Halogen
Element 10: Neon (Ne), Noble gas
Element 11: Sodium (Na), Alkali metal
Element 12: Magnesium (Mg), Alkaline earth metal

Element 13: Aluminium (Al), Other metal
Element 14: Silicon (Si), Metalloid
Element 15: Phosphorus (P), Other non-metal
Element 16: Sulfur (S), Other non-metal
Element 17: Chlorine (Cl), Halogen
Element 18: Argon (Ar), Noble gas
Element 19: Potassium (K), Alkali metal
Element 20: Calcium (Ca), Alkaline earth metal

Element 21: Scandium (Sc), Transition metal
Element 22: Titanium (Ti), Transition metal
Element 23: Vanadium (V), Transition metal
Element 24: Chromium (Cr), Transition metal
Element 25: Manganese (Mn), Transition metal
Element 26: Iron (Fe), Transition metal
Element 27: Cobalt (Co), Transition metal
Element 28: Nickel (Ni), Transition metal
Element 29: Copper (Cu), Transition metal
Element 30: Zinc (Zn), Transition metal
Element 31: Gallium (Ga), Other metal
Element 32: Germanium (Ge), Metalloid
Element 33: Arsenic (As), Metalloid
Element 34: Selenium (Se), Other non-metal
Element 35: Bromine (Br), Halogen
Element 36: Krypton (Kr), Noble gas
Element 37: Rubidium (Rb), Alkali metal
Element 38: Strontium (Sr), Alkaline earth metal

Element 39: Yttrium (Y), Transition metal
Element 40: Zirconium (Zr), Transition metal
Element 41: Niobium (Nb), Transition metal
Element 42: Molybdenum (Mo), Transition metal
Element 43: Technetium (Tc), Transition metal
Element 44: Ruthenium (Ru), Transition metal
Element 45: Rhodium (Rh), Transition metal
Element 46: Palladium (Pd), Transition metal
Element 47: Silver (Ag), Transition metal
Element 48: Cadmium (Cd), Transition metal
Element 49: Indium (In), Other metal
Element 50: Tin (Sn), Other metal
Element 51: Antimony (Sb), Metalloid
Element 52: Tellurium (Te), Metalloid
Element 53: Iodine (I), Halogen
Element 54: Xenon (Xe), Noble gas
Element 55: Caesium (Cs), Alkali metal
Element 56: Barium (Ba), Alkaline earth metal
Element 57: Lanthanum (La), Lanthanoid
Element 58: Cerium (Ce), Lanthanoid
Element 59: Praseodymium (Pr), Lanthanoid
Element 60: Neodymium (Nd), Lanthanoid
Element 61: Promethium (Pm), Lanthanoid
Element 62: Samarium (Sm), Lanthanoid
Element 63: Europium (Eu), Lanthanoid
Element 64: Gadolinium (Gd), Lanthanoid
Element 65: Terbium (Tb), Lanthanoid
Element 66: Dysprosium (Dy), Lanthanoid
Element 67: Holmium (Ho), Lanthanoid
Element 68: Erbium (Er), Lanthanoid
Element 69: Thulium (Tm), Lanthanoid
Element 70: Ytterbium (Yb), Lanthanoid
Element 71: Lutetium (Lu), Lanthanoid
Element 72: Hafnium (Hf), Transition metal
Element 73: Tantalum (Ta), Transition metal
Element 74: Tungsten (W), Transition metal
Element 75: Rhenium (Re), Transition metal
Element 76: Osmium (Os), Transition metal
Element 77: Iridium (Ir), Transition metal
Element 78: Platinum (Pt), Transition metal
Element 79: Gold (Au), Transition metal
Element 80: Mercury (Hg), Transition metal
Element 81: Thallium (Tl), Other metal
Element 82: Lead (Pb), Other metal
Element 83: Bismuth (Bi), Other metal
Element 84: Polonium (Po), Metalloid
Element 85: Astatine (At), Halogen
Element 86: Radon (Rn), Noble gas
Element 87: Francium (Fr), Alkali metal
Element 88: Radium (Ra), Alkaline earth metal
Element 89: Actinium (Ac), Actinoid
Element 90: Thorium (Th), Actinoid
Element 91: Protactinium (Pa), Actinoid
Element 92: Uranium (U), Actinoid
Element 93: Neptunium (Np), Actinoid
Element 94: Plutonium (Pu), Actinoid
Element 95: Americium (Am), Actinoid
Element 96: Curium (Cm), Actinoid
Element 97: Berkelium (Bk), Actinoid
Element 98: Californium (Cf), Actinoid
Element 99: Einsteinium (Es), Actinoid
Element 100: Fermium (Fm), Actinoid
Element 101: Mendelevium (Md), Actinoid
Element 102: Nobelium (No), Actinoid
Element 103: Lawrencium (Lr), Actinoid
Element 104: Rutherfordium (Rf), Transition metal
Element 105: Dubnium (Db), Transition metal
Element 106: Seaborgium (Sg), Transition metal
Element 107: Bohrium (Bh), Transition metal
Element 108: Hassium (Hs), Transition metal
Element 109: Meitnerium (Mt), Transition metal
Element 110: Darmstadtium (Ds), Transition metal
Element 111: Roentgenium (Rg), Transition metal
Element 112: Copernicium (Cn), Transition metal
Element 113: Ununtrium (Uut)
Element 114: Ununquadium (Uuq)
Element 115: Ununpentium (Uup)
Element 116: Ununhexium (Uuh)
Element 117: Ununseptium (Uus)
Element 118: Ununoctium (Uuo)
Gold has a Lattice face centered cubic crystal structure
79Au
Periodic table
Appearance
metallic yellow
General properties
Name, symbol, number gold, Au, 79
Pronunciation /ˈɡld/
Element category transition metal
Group, period, block 11, 6, d
Standard atomic weight 196.966569g·mol−1
Electron configuration [Xe] 4f14 5d10 6s1
Electrons per shell 2, 8, 18, 32, 18, 1 (Image)
Physical properties
Phase solid
Density (near r.t.) 19.30 g·cm−3
Liquid density at m.p. 17.31 g·cm−3
Melting point 1337.33 K, 1064.18 °C, 1947.52 °F
Boiling point 3129 K, 2856 °C, 5173 °F
Heat of fusion 12.55 kJ·mol−1
Heat of vaporization 324 kJ·mol−1
Specific heat capacity (25 °C) 25.418 J·mol−1·K−1
Vapor pressure
P (Pa) 1 10 100 1 k 10 k 100 k
at T (K) 1646 1814 2021 2281 2620 3078
Atomic properties
Oxidation states -1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
(amphoteric oxide)
Electronegativity 2.54 (Pauling scale)
Ionization energies 1st: 890.1 kJ·mol−1
2nd: 1980 kJ·mol−1
Atomic radius 144 pm
Covalent radius 136±6 pm
Van der Waals radius 166 pm
Miscellanea
Crystal structure Lattice face centered cubic
Magnetic ordering diamagnetic
Electrical resistivity (20 °C) 22.14 nΩ·m
Thermal conductivity (300 K) 318 W·m−1·K−1
Thermal expansion (25 °C) 14.2 µm·m−1·K−1
Speed of sound (thin rod) (r.t.) 2030 m·s−1
Tensile strength 120 MPa
Young's modulus 79 GPa
Shear modulus 27 GPa
Bulk modulus 180 GPa
Poisson ratio 0.44
Mohs hardness 2.5
Vickers hardness 216 MPa
Brinell hardness 25 HB MPa
CAS registry number 7440-57-5
Most stable isotopes
Main article: Isotopes of gold
iso NA half-life DM DE (MeV) DP
195Au syn 186.10 d ε 0.227 195Pt
196Au syn 6.183 d ε 1.506 196Pt
β 0.686 196Hg
197Au 100% 197Au is stable with 118 neutrons
198Au syn 2.69517 d β 1.372 198Hg
199Au syn 3.169 d β 0.453 199Hg
v · d · e


Gold (play /ˈɡld/) is a chemical element with the symbol Au (from Latin: aurum "gold") and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny metal and the most malleable and ductile metal known. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a transition metal and a group 11 element. With exception of the noble gases, gold is the least reactive chemical element known. It has been a valuable and highly sought-after precious metal for coinage, jewelry, and other arts since long before the beginning of recorded history.

Gold resists attacks by individual acids, but it can be dissolved by the aqua regia, so named because it dissolves gold. Gold also dissolves in alkaline solutions of cyanide, which have been used in mining. Gold dissolves in mercury, forming amalgam alloys. Gold is insoluble in nitric acid, which dissolves silver and base metals, a property that has long been used to confirm the presence of gold in items.

The native metal occurs as nuggets or grains in rocks, in veins and in alluvial deposits. Less commonly, it occurs in minerals as gold compounds, usually with tellurium. Gold standards have been the most common basis for monetary policies throughout human history, being widely supplanted by fiat currency only in the late 20th century. Gold has also been frequently linked to a wide variety of symbolisms and ideologies. A total of 165,000 tonnes of gold have been mined in human history, as of 2009.[1] This is roughly equivalent to 5.3 billion troy ounces or, in terms of volume, about 8500 m3, or a cube 20.4 m on a side. The world consumption of new gold produced is about 50% in jewelry, 40% in investments, and 10% in industry.[2]

Besides its widespread monetary and symbolic functions, gold has many practical uses in dentistry, electronics, and other fields. Its high malleability, ductility, resistance to corrosion and most other chemical reactions, and conductivity of electricity lead to many uses of gold, including electric wiring, colored glass production and even gold leaf eating.

Contents

[hide]
  • 1 Characteristics
    • 1.1 Color
    • 1.2 Isotopes
  • 2 Use and applications
    • 2.1 Monetary exchange
    • 2.2 Investment
    • 2.3 Jewelry
    • 2.4 Medicine
    • 2.5 Food and drink
    • 2.6 Industry
    • 2.7 Electronics
    • 2.8 Commercial chemistry
  • 3 History
  • 4 Occurrence
    • 4.1 Gallery of specimens of crystalline native gold
  • 5 Production
  • 6 Consumption
  • 7 Chemistry
    • 7.1 Less common oxidation states
    • 7.2 Mixed valence compounds
  • 8 Toxicity
  • 9 Price
  • 10 Symbolism
  • 11 State emblem
  • 12 See also
  • 13 References
  • 14 External links

Characteristics

Gold is the most malleable and ductile of all metals; a single gram can be beaten into a sheet of 1 square meter, or an ounce into 300 square feet. Gold leaf can be beaten thin enough to become translucent. The transmitted light appears greenish blue, because gold strongly reflects yellow and red.[3] Such semi-transparent sheets also strongly reflect infrared light, making them useful as infrared (radiant heat) shields in visors of heat-resistant suits, and in sun-visors for spacesuits.[4]

Gold readily creates alloys with many other metals. These alloys can be produced to modify the hardness and other metallurgical properties, to control melting point or to create exotic colors (see below).[5] Gold is a good conductor of heat and electricity and reflects infrared radiation strongly. Chemically, it is unaffected by air, moisture and most corrosive reagents, and is therefore well suited for use in coins and jewelry and as a protective coating on other, more reactive, metals. However, it is not chemically inert.

Common oxidation states of gold include +1 (gold(I) or aurous compounds) and +3 (gold(III) or auric compounds). Gold ions in solution are readily reduced and precipitated out as gold metal by adding any other metal as the reducing agent. The added metal is oxidized and dissolves allowing the gold to be displaced from solution and be recovered as a solid precipitate.

High quality pure metallic gold is tasteless and scentless, in keeping with its resistance to corrosion (it is metal ions which confer taste to metals).[6]

In addition, gold is very dense, a cubic meter weighing 19,300 kg. By comparison, the density of lead is 11,340 kg/m3, and that of the densest element, osmium, is 22,610 kg/m3.

Color

Different colors of Ag-Au-Cu alloys

Whereas most other pure metals are gray or silvery white, gold is yellow. This color is determined by the density of loosely bound (valence) electrons; those electrons oscillate as a collective "plasma" medium described in terms of a quasiparticle called plasmon. The frequency of these oscillations lies in the ultraviolet range for most metals, but it falls into the visible range for gold due to subtle relativistic effects that affect the orbitals around gold atoms.[7][8] Similar effects impart a golden hue to metallic cesium (see relativistic quantum chemistry).

Common colored gold alloys such as rose gold can be created by the addition of various amounts of copper and silver, as indicated in the triangular diagram to the left. Alloys containing palladium or nickel are also important in commercial jewelry as these produce white gold alloys. Less commonly, addition of manganese, aluminium, iron, indium and other elements can produce more unusual colors of gold for various applications.[5]

Isotopes

Gold has only one stable isotope, 197Au, which is also its only naturally occurring isotope. Thirty six radioisotopes have been synthesized ranging in atomic mass from 169 to 205. The most stable of these is 195Au with a half-life of 186.1 days. The least stable is 171Au, which decays by proton emission with a half-life of 30 µs. Most of gold's radioisotopes with atomic masses below 197 decay by some combination of proton emission, α decay, and β+ decay. The exceptions are 195Au, which decays by electron capture, and 196Au, which decays most often by electron capture (93%) with a minor β- decay path (7%).[9] All of gold's radioisotopes with atomic masses above 197 decay by β- decay.[10]

At least 32 nuclear isomers have also been characterized, ranging in atomic mass from 170 to 200. Within that range, only 178Au, 180Au, 181Au, 182Au, and 188Au do not have isomers. Gold's most stable isomer is 198m2Au with a half-life of 2.27 days. Gold's least stable isomer is 177 m2Au with a half-life of only 7 ns. 184 m1Au has three decay paths: β+ decay, isomeric transition, and alpha decay. No other isomer or isotope of gold has three decay paths.[10]

Use and applications

Monetary exchange

Gold has been widely used throughout the world as a vehicle for monetary exchange, either by issuance and recognition of gold coins or other bare metal quantities, or through gold-convertible paper instruments by establishing gold standards in which the total value of issued money is represented in a store of gold reserves.

However, production has not grown in relation to the world's economies. Today, gold mining output is declining.[11] With the sharp growth of economies in the 20th century, and increasing foreign exchange, the world's gold reserves and their trading market have become a small fraction of all markets and fixed exchange rates of currencies to gold were no longer sustained. At the beginning of World War I the warring nations moved to a fractional gold standard, inflating their currencies to finance the war effort. After World War II gold was replaced by a system of convertible currency following the Bretton Woods system. Gold standards and the direct convertibility of currencies to gold have been abandoned by world governments, being replaced by fiat currency in their stead. Switzerland was the last country to tie its currency to gold; it backed 40% of its value until the Swiss joined the International Monetary Fund in 1999.[citation needed]

Pure gold is too soft for day-to-day monetary use and is typically hardened by alloying with copper, silver or other base metals. The gold content of alloys is measured in carats (k). Pure gold is designated as 24k. English gold coins intended for circulation from 1526 into the 1930s were typically a standard 22k alloy called crown gold, for hardness (American gold coins for circulation after 1837 contained the slightly lower amount of 0.900 fine gold, or 21.6 kt).

Investment

Many holders of gold store it in form of bullion coins or bars as a hedge against inflation or other economic disruptions. However, some economists do not believe gold serves as a hedge against inflation or currency depreciation.[12]

The ISO 4217 currency code of gold is XAU.

Modern bullion coins for investment or collector purposes do not require good mechanical wear properties; they are typically fine gold at 24k, although the American Gold Eagle, the British gold sovereign, and the South African Krugerrand continue to be minted in 22k metal in historical tradition. The special issue Canadian Gold Maple Leaf coin contains the highest purity gold of any bullion coin, at 99.999% or 0.99999, while the popular issue Canadian Gold Maple Leaf coin has a purity of 99.99%. Several other 99.99% pure gold coins are available. In 2006, the United States Mint began production of the American Buffalo gold bullion coin with a purity of 99.99%. The Australian Gold Kangaroos were first coined in 1986 as the Australian Gold Nugget but changed the reverse design in 1989. Other popular modern coins include the Austrian Vienna Philharmonic bullion coin and the Chinese Gold Panda.

Jewelry

Moche gold necklace depicting feline heads. Larco Museum Collection. Lima-Peru

Because of the softness of pure (24k) gold, it is usually alloyed with base metals for use in jewelry, altering its hardness and ductility, melting point, color and other properties. Alloys with lower caratage, typically 22k, 18k, 14k or 10k, contain higher percentages of copper, or other base metals or silver or palladium in the alloy. Copper is the most commonly used base metal, yielding a redder color. Eighteen-carat gold containing 25% copper is found in antique and Russian jewelry and has a distinct, though not dominant, copper cast, creating rose gold. Fourteen-carat gold-copper alloy is nearly identical in color to certain bronze alloys, and both may be used to produce police and other badges. Blue gold can be made by alloying with iron and purple gold can be made by alloying with aluminium, although rarely done except in specialized jewelry. Blue gold is more brittle and therefore more difficult to work with when making jewelry. Fourteen and eighteen carat gold alloys with silver alone appear greenish-yellow and are referred to as green gold. White gold alloys can be made with palladium or nickel. White 18-carat gold containing 17.3% nickel, 5.5% zinc and 2.2% copper is silvery in appearance. Nickel is toxic, however, and its release from nickel white gold is controlled by legislation in Europe. Alternative white gold alloys are available based on palladium, silver and other white metals,[13] but the palladium alloys are more expensive than those using nickel. High-carat white gold alloys are far more resistant to corrosion than are either pure silver or sterling silver. The Japanese craft of Mokume-gane exploits the color contrasts between laminated colored gold alloys to produce decorative wood-grain effects.

Medicine

In medieval times, gold was often seen as beneficial for the health, in the belief that something that rare and beautiful could not be anything but healthy. Even some modern esotericists and forms of alternative medicine assign metallic gold a healing power.[14] Some gold salts do have anti-inflammatory properties and are used as pharmaceuticals in the treatment of arthritis and other similar conditions.[15] However, only salts and radioisotopes of gold are of pharmacological value, as elemental (metallic) gold is inert to all chemicals it encounters inside the body. In modern times, injectable gold has been proven to help to reduce the pain and swelling of rheumatoid arthritis and tuberculosis.[15][16]

Gold alloys are used in restorative dentistry, especially in tooth restorations, such as crowns and permanent bridges. The gold alloys' slight malleability facilitates the creation of a superior molar mating surface with other teeth and produces results that are generally more satisfactory than those produced by the creation of porcelain crowns. The use of gold crowns in more prominent teeth such as incisors is favored in some cultures and discouraged in others.

Colloidal gold preparations (suspensions of gold nanoparticles) in water are intensely red-colored, and can be made with tightly controlled particle sizes up to a few tens of nanometers across by reduction of gold chloride with citrate or ascorbate ions. Colloidal gold is used in research applications in medicine, biology and materials science. The technique of immunogold labeling exploits the ability of the gold particles to adsorb protein molecules onto their surfaces. Colloidal gold particles coated with specific antibodies can be used as probes for the presence and position of antigens on the surfaces of cells.[17] In ultrathin sections of tissues viewed by electron microscopy, the immunogold labels appear as extremely dense round spots at the position of the antigen.[18] Colloidal gold is also the form of gold used as gold paint on ceramics prior to firing.

Gold, or alloys of gold and palladium, are applied as conductive coating to biological specimens and other non-conducting materials such as plastics and glass to be viewed in a scanning electron microscope. The coating, which is usually applied by sputtering with an argon plasma, has a triple role in this application. Gold's very high electrical conductivity drains electrical charge to earth, and its very high density provides stopping power for electrons in the electron beam, helping to limit the depth to which the electron beam penetrates the specimen. This improves definition of the position and topography of the specimen surface and increases the spatial resolution of the image. Gold also produces a high output of secondary electrons when irradiated by an electron beam, and these low-energy electrons are the most commonly used signal source used in the scanning electron microscope.[19]

The isotope gold-198, (half-life 2.7 days) is used in some cancer treatments and for treating other diseases.[20]

Food and drink

  • Gold can be used in food and has the E number 175.[21]
  • Gold leaf, flake or dust is used on and in some gourmet foods, notably sweets and drinks as decorative ingredient.[22] Gold flake was used by the nobility in Medieval Europe as a decoration in food and drinks, in the form of leaf, flakes or dust, either to demonstrate the host's wealth or in the belief that something that valuable and rare must be beneficial for one's health.
  • Danziger Goldwasser (German: Gold water of Danzig) or Goldwasser (English: Goldwater) is a traditional German herbal liqueur[23] produced in what is today Gdańsk, Poland, and Schwabach, Germany, and contains flakes of gold leaf. There are also some expensive (~$1000) cocktails which contain flakes of gold leaf.[24] However, since metallic gold is inert to all body chemistry, it adds no taste nor has it any other nutritional effect and leaves the body unaltered.[25]

Industry

The 220 kg gold brick displayed in Jinguashi Gold Museum, Taiwan, Republic of China.
The world's largest gold bar has a mass of 250 kg. Toi museum, Japan.
A gold nugget of 5 mm in diameter (bottom) can be expanded through hammering into a gold foil of about 0.5 square meter. Toi museum, Japan.
  • Gold solder is used for joining the components of gold jewelry by high-temperature hard soldering or brazing. If the work is to be of hallmarking quality, gold solder must match the carat weight of the work, and alloy formulas are manufactured in most industry-standard carat weights to color match yellow and white gold. Gold solder is usually made in at least three melting-point ranges referred to as Easy, Medium and Hard. By using the hard, high-melting point solder first, followed by solders with progressively lower melting points, goldsmiths can assemble complex items with several separate soldered joints.
  • Gold can be made into thread and used in embroidery.
  • Gold is ductile and malleable, meaning it can be drawn into very thin wire and can be beaten into very thin sheets known as gold leaf.
  • Gold produces a deep, intense red color when used as a coloring agent in cranberry glass.
  • In photography, gold toners are used to shift the color of silver bromide black and white prints towards brown or blue tones, or to increase their stability. Used on sepia-toned prints, gold toners produce red tones. Kodak published formulas for several types of gold toners, which use gold as the chloride.[26]
  • As gold is a good reflector of electromagnetic radiation such as infrared and visible light as well as radio waves, it is used for the protective coatings on many artificial satellites, in infrared protective faceplates in thermal protection suits and astronauts' helmets and in electronic warfare planes like the EA-6B Prowler.
  • Gold is used as the reflective layer on some high-end CDs.
  • Automobiles may use gold for heat dissipation. McLaren uses gold foil in the engine compartment of its F1 model.[27]
  • Gold can be manufactured so thin that it appears transparent. It is used in some aircraft cockpit windows for de-icing or anti-icing by passing electricity through it. The heat produced by the resistance of the gold is enough to deter ice from forming.[28]

Electronics

The concentration of free electrons in gold metal is 5.90×1022 cm−3. Gold is highly conductive to electricity, and has been used for electrical wiring in some high-energy applications (only silver and copper are more conductive per volume, but gold has the advantage of corrosion resistance). For example, gold electrical wires were used during some of the Manhattan Project's atomic experiments, but large high current silver wires were used in the calutron isotope separator magnets in the project.

Though gold is attacked by free chlorine, its good conductivity and general resistance to oxidation and corrosion in other environments (including resistance to non-chlorinated acids) has led to its widespread industrial use in the electronic era as a thin layer coating electrical connectors of all kinds, thereby ensuring good connection. For example, gold is used in the connectors of the more expensive electronics cables, such as audio, video and USB cables. The benefit of using gold over other connector metals such as tin in these applications is highly debated. Gold connectors are often criticized by audio-visual experts as unnecessary for most consumers and seen as simply a marketing ploy. However, the use of gold in other applications in electronic sliding contacts in highly humid or corrosive atmospheres, and in use for contacts with a very high failure cost (certain computers, communications equipment, spacecraft, jet aircraft engines) remains very common.[29]

Besides sliding electrical contacts, gold is also used in electrical contacts because of its resistance to corrosion, electrical conductivity, ductility and lack of toxicity.[30] Switch contacts are generally subjected to more intense corrosion stress than are sliding contacts. Fine gold wires are used to connect semiconductor devices to their packages through a process known as wire bonding.

Commercial chemistry

Gold is attacked by and dissolves in alkaline solutions of potassium or sodium cyanide, to form the salt gold cyanide—a technique that has been used in extracting metallic gold from ores in the cyanide process. Gold cyanide is the electrolyte used in commercial electroplating of gold onto base metals and electroforming.

Gold chloride (chloroauric acid) solutions are used to make colloidal gold by reduction with citrate or ascorbate ions. Gold chloride and gold oxide are used to make highly valued cranberry or red-colored glass, which, like colloidal gold suspensions, contains evenly sized spherical gold nanoparticles.[31]

History

The Turin Papyrus Map.
Funerary mask of Tutankhamun.
Jason returns with the golden fleece on an Apulian red-figure calyx krater, ca. 340–330 BC.

Gold has been known and used by artisans since the Chalcolithic. Gold artifacts in the Balkans appear from the 4th millennium BC, such as that found in the Varna Necropolis. Gold artifacts such as the golden hats and the Nebra disk appeared in Central Europe from the 2nd millennium BC Bronze Age.

Egyptian hieroglyphs from as early as 2600 BC describe gold, which king Tushratta of the Mitanni claimed was "more plentiful than dirt" in Egypt.[32] Egypt and especially Nubia had the resources to make them major gold-producing areas for much of history. The earliest known map is known as the Turin Papyrus Map and shows the plan of a gold mine in Nubia together with indications of the local geology. The primitive working methods are described by both Strabo and Diodorus Siculus, and included fire-setting. Large mines were also present across the Red Sea in what is now Saudi Arabia.

The legend of the golden fleece may refer to the use of fleeces to trap gold dust from placer deposits in the ancient world. Gold is mentioned frequently in the Old Testament, starting with Genesis 2:11 (at Havilah) and is included with the gifts of the magi in the first chapters of Matthew New Testament. The Book of Revelation 21:21 describes the city of New Jerusalem as having streets "made of pure gold, clear as crystal". The south-east corner of the Black Sea was famed for its gold. Exploitation is said to date from the time of Midas, and this gold was important in the establishment of what is probably the world's earliest coinage in Lydia around 610 BC.[33] From the 6th or 5th century BC, the Chu (state) circulated the Ying Yuan, one kind of square gold coin.

In Roman metallurgy, new methods for extracting gold on a large scale were developed by introducing hydraulic mining methods, especially in Hispania from 25 BC onwards and in Dacia from 106 AD onwards. One of their largest mines was at Las Medulas in León (Spain), where seven long aqueducts enabled them to sluice most of a large alluvial deposit. The mines at Roşia Montană in Transylvania were also very large, and until very recently, still mined by opencast methods. They also exploited smaller deposits in Britain, such as placer and hard-rock deposits at Dolaucothi. The various methods they used are well described by Pliny the Elder in his encyclopedia Naturalis Historia written towards the end of the first century AD.

The Mali Empire in Africa was famed throughout the old world for its large amounts of gold. Mansa Musa, ruler of the empire (1312–1337) became famous throughout the old world for his great hajj to Mecca in 1324. When he passed through Cairo in July 1324, he was reportedly accompanied by a camel train that included thousands of people and nearly a hundred camels. He gave away so much gold that it depressed the price in Egypt for over a decade.[34] A contemporary Arab historian remarked:

Gold was at a high price in Egypt until they came in that year. The mithqal did not go below 25 dirhams and was generally above, but from that time its value fell and it cheapened in price and has remained cheap till now. The mithqal does not exceed 22 dirhams or less. This has been the state of affairs for about twelve years until this day by reason of the large amount of gold which they brought into Egypt and spent there [...]
Chihab Al-Umari[35]

The European exploration of the Americas was fueled in no small part by reports of the gold ornaments displayed in great profusion by Native American peoples, especially in Central America, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. The Aztecs regarded gold as literally the product of the gods, calling it "god excrement" (teocuitlatl in Nahuatl).[36] However, for the indigenous peoples of North America, gold was considered useless, and they saw much greater value in other minerals, which were directly related to their utility, such as obsidian, flint, and slate.[37]

Although the price of some platinum group metals can be much higher, gold has long been considered the most desirable of precious metals, and its value has been used as the standard for many currencies (known as the gold standard) in history. Gold has been used as a symbol for purity, value, royalty, and particularly roles that combine these properties. Gold as a sign of wealth and prestige was ridiculed by Thomas More in his treatise Utopia. On that imaginary island, gold is so abundant that it is used to make chains for slaves, tableware and lavatory-seats. When ambassadors from other countries arrive, dressed in ostentatious gold jewels and badges, the Utopians mistake them for menial servants, paying homage instead to the most modestly dressed of their party.

There is an age-old tradition of biting gold to test its authenticity. Although this is certainly not a professional way of examining gold, the bite test should score the gold because gold is a soft metal, as indicated by its score on the Mohs' scale of mineral hardness. The purer the gold the easier it should be to mark it. Painted lead can cheat this test because lead is softer than gold (and may invite a small risk of lead poisoning if sufficient lead is absorbed by the biting).

Gold in antiquity was relatively easy to obtain geologically; however, 75% of all gold ever produced has been extracted since 1910.[38] It has been estimated that all gold ever refined would form a single cube 20 m (66 ft) on a side (equivalent to 8,000 m3).[38]

One main goal of the alchemists was to produce gold from other substances, such as lead — presumably by the interaction with a mythical substance called the philosopher's stone. Although they never succeeded in this attempt, the alchemists promoted an interest in what can be done with substances, and this laid a foundation for today's chemistry. Their symbol for gold was the circle with a point at its center (☉), which was also the astrological symbol and the ancient Chinese character for the Sun. For modern creation of artificial gold by neutron capture, see gold synthesis.

During the 19th century, gold rushes occurred whenever large gold deposits were discovered. The first documented discovery of gold in the United States was at the Reed Gold Mine near Georgeville, North Carolina in 1803.[39] The first major gold strike in the United States occurred in a small north Georgia town called Dahlonega.[40] Further gold rushes occurred in California, Colorado, the Black Hills, Otago in New Zealand, Australia, Witwatersrand in South Africa, and the Klondike in Canada.

Because of its historically high value, much of the gold mined throughout history is still in circulation in one form or another.

Occurrence

This 156-ounce (4.85 kg) nugget was found by an individual prospector in the Southern California Desert using a metal detector.

Gold's atomic number of 79 makes it one of the higher atomic number elements which occur naturally. Like all elements with atomic numbers larger than iron, gold is thought to have been formed from a supernova nucleosynthesis process. Their explosions scattered metal-containing dusts (including heavy elements like gold) into the region of space in which they later condensed into our solar system and the Earth.[41]

On Earth, whenever elemental gold occurs, it appears most often as a metal solid solution of gold with silver, i.e. a gold silver alloy. Such alloys usually have a silver content of 8–10%. Electrum is elemental gold with more than 20% silver. Electrum's color runs from golden-silvery to silvery, dependent upon the silver content. The more silver, the lower the specific gravity.

Relative sizes of an 860 kg block of gold ore, and the 30 g of gold that can be extracted from it. Toi gold mine, Japan.
Gold left behind after a pyrite cube was oxidized to hematite. Note cubic shape of cavity.

Gold is found in ores made up of rock with very small or microscopic particles of gold. This gold ore is often found together with quartz or sulfide minerals such as Fool's Gold, which is a pyrite.[42] These are called lode deposits. Native gold is also found in the form of free flakes, grains or larger nuggets that have been eroded from rocks and end up in alluvial deposits (called placer deposits). Such free gold is always richer at the surface of gold-bearing veins owing to the oxidation of accompanying minerals followed by weathering, and washing of the dust into streams and rivers, where it collects and can be welded by water action to form nuggets.

Gold sometimes occurs combined with tellurium as the minerals calaverite, krennerite, nagyagite, petzite and sylvanite, and as the rare bismuthide maldonite (Au2Bi) and antimonide aurostibite (AuSb2). Gold also occurs in rare alloys with copper, lead, and mercury: the minerals auricupride (Cu3Au), novodneprite (AuPb3) and weishanite ((Au, Ag)3Hg2).

Recent research suggests that microbes can sometimes play an important role in forming gold deposits, transporting and precipitating gold to form grains and nuggets that collect in alluvial deposits.[43]

The world's oceans contain gold. Measured concentrations of gold in the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific are 50–150 fmol/L or 10–30 parts per quadrillion (about 10–30 g/km3). In general, Au concentrations for Atlantic and Pacific samples are the same (~50 fmol/L) but less certain. Mediterranean deep waters contain higher concentrations of Au (100–150 fmol/L) attributed to wind-blown dust and/or rivers. At 10 parts per quadrillion the Earth's oceans would hold 15,000 tons of gold.[44] These figures are three orders of magnitude less than reported in the literature prior to 1988, indicating contamination problems with the earlier data.

A number of people have claimed to be able to economically recover gold from sea water, but so far they have all been either mistaken or crooks. A so-called reverend, Prescott Jernegan ran a gold-from-seawater swindle in the United States in the 1890s. A British fraudster ran the same scam in England in the early 1900s.[45] Fritz Haber (the German inventor of the Haber process) did research on the extraction of gold from sea water in an effort to help pay Germany's reparations following World War I.[46] Based on the published values of 2 to 64 ppb of gold in seawater a commercially successful extraction seemed possible. After analysis of 4,000 water samples yielding an average of 0.004 ppb it became clear that the extraction would not be possible and he stopped the project.[47] No commercially viable mechanism for performing gold extraction from sea water has yet been identified. Gold synthesis is not economically viable and is unlikely to become so in the foreseeable future.

Gallery of specimens of crystalline native gold

Production

Gold output in 2005
The entrance to an underground gold mine in Victoria, Australia.
Pure gold precipitate produced by the aqua regia refining process

Gold extraction is most economical in large, easily mined deposits. Ore grades as little as 0.5 mg/kg (0.5 parts per million, ppm) can be economical. Typical ore grades in open-pit mines are 1–5 mg/kg (1–5 ppm); ore grades in underground or hard rock mines are usually at least 3 mg/kg (3 ppm). Because ore grades of 30 mg/kg (30 ppm) are usually needed before gold is visible to the naked eye, in most gold mines the gold is invisible.

Since the 1880s, South Africa has been the source for a large proportion of the world's gold supply, with about 50% of all gold ever produced having come from South Africa. Production in 1970 accounted for 79% of the world supply, producing about 1,480 tonnes. 2008 production was 2,260 tonnes. In 2007 China (with 276 tonnes) overtook South Africa as the world's largest gold producer, the first time since 1905 that South Africa has not been the largest.[48]

The city of Johannesburg located in South Africa was founded as a result of the Witwatersrand Gold Rush which resulted in the discovery of some of the largest gold deposits the world has ever seen. Gold fields located within the basin in the Free State and Gauteng provinces are extensive in strike and dip requiring some of the world's deepest mines, with the Savuka and TauTona mines being currently the world's deepest gold mine at 3,777 m. The Second Boer War of 1899–1901 between the British Empire and the Afrikaner Boers was at least partly over the rights of miners and possession of the gold wealth in South Africa.

Other major producers are the United States, Australia, Russia and Peru. Mines in South Dakota and Nevada supply two-thirds of gold used in the United States. In South America, the controversial project Pascua Lama aims at exploitation of rich fields in the high mountains of Atacama Desert, at the border between Chile and Argentina. Today about one-quarter of the world gold output is estimated to originate from artisanal or small scale mining.[49]

After initial production, gold is often subsequently refined industrially by the Wohlwill process which is based on electrolysis or by the Miller process, that is chlorination in the melt. The Wohlwill process results in higher purity, but is more complex and is only applied in small-scale installations.[50][51] Other methods of assaying and purifying smaller amounts of gold include parting and inquartation as well as cupellation, or refining methods based on the dissolution of gold in aqua regia.[52]

At the end of 2009, it was estimated that all the gold ever mined totaled 165,000 tonnes[1] This can be represented by a cube with an edge length of about 20.28 meters. The value of this is very limited; at $1,200 per ounce, 165,000 tons of gold would have a value of only $6.6 trillion.

The average gold mining and extraction costs were about US$317/oz in 2007, but these can vary widely depending on mining type and ore quality; global mine production amounted to 2,471.1 tonnes.[53]

Gold is so stable and so valuable that most of the gold used in manufactured goods, jewelry, and works of art is eventually recovered and recycled. Some gold used in spacecraft and electronic equipment cannot be profitably recovered, but it is generally used in these applications in the form of extremely thin layers or extremely fine wires so that the total quantity used (and lost) is small compared to the total amount of gold produced and stockpiled. Thus there is little true consumption of new gold in the economic sense; the stock of gold remains essentially constant (at least in the modern world) while ownership shifts from one party to another.[54] One estimate is that 85% of all the gold ever mined is still available in the world's easily recoverable stocks, with 15% having been lost, or used in non-recyclable industrial uses.[55]

Consumption

The consumption of gold produced in the world is about 50% in jewelry, 40% in investments, and 10% in industry.

India is the world's largest single consumer of gold, as Indians buy about 25% of the world's gold,[56] purchasing approximately 800 tonnes of gold every year, mostly for jewelry. India is also the largest importer of gold; in 2008, India imported around 400 tonnes of gold.[57]

Chemistry

Gold (III) chloride solution in water

Although gold is a noble metal, it forms many and diverse compounds. The oxidation state of gold in its compounds ranges from −1 to +5, but Au(I) and Au(III) dominate its chemistry. Au(I), referred to as the aurous ion, is the most common oxidation state with soft ligands such as thioethers, thiolates, and tertiary phosphines. Au(I) compounds are typically linear. A good example is Au(CN)2, which is the soluble form of gold encountered in mining. Curiously, aurous complexes of water are rare. The binary gold halides, such as AuCl, form zigzag polymeric chains, again featuring linear coordination at Au. Most drugs based on gold are Au(I) derivatives.[58]

Au(III) (auric) is a common oxidation state, and is illustrated by gold(III) chloride, Au2Cl6. The gold atom centers in Au(III) complexes, like other d8 compounds, are typically square planar, with chemical bonds that have both covalent and ionic character.

Aqua regia, a 1:3 mixture of nitric acid and hydrochloric acid, dissolves gold. Nitric acid oxidizes the metal to +3 ions, but only in minute amounts, typically undetectable in the pure acid because of the chemical equilibrium of the reaction. However, the ions are removed from the equilibrium by hydrochloric acid, forming AuCl4 ions, or chloroauric acid, thereby enabling further oxidation.

Some free halogens react with gold.[59] Gold also reacts in alkaline solutions of potassium cyanide. With mercury, it forms an amalgam.

Less common oxidation states

Less common oxidation states of gold include −1, +2, and +5.

The −1 oxidation state occurs in compounds containing the Au anion, called aurides. Caesium auride (CsAu), for example, crystallizes in the caesium chloride motif.[60] Other aurides include those of Rb+, K+, and tetramethylammonium (CH3)4N+.[61]

Gold(II) compounds are usually diamagnetic with Au–Au bonds such as [Au(CH2)2P(C6H5)2]2Cl2. The evaporation of a solution of Au(OH)3 in concentrated H2SO4 produces red crystals of gold(II) sulfate, AuSO4. Originally thought to be a mixed-valence compound, it has been shown to contain Au4+
2
cations.[62][63] A noteworthy, legitimate gold(II) complex is the tetraxenonogold(II) cation, which contains xenon as a ligand, found in [AuXe4](Sb2F11)2.[64]

Gold pentafluoride and its derivative anion, AuF
6
, is the sole example of gold(V), the highest verified oxidation state.[65]

Some gold compounds exhibit aurophilic bonding, which describes the tendency of gold ions to interact at distances that are too long to be a conventional Au–Au bond but shorter that van der Waals bonding. The interaction is estimated to be comparable in strength to that of a hydrogen bond.

Mixed valence compounds

Well-defined cluster compounds are numerous.[61] In such cases, gold has a fractional oxidation state. A representative example is the octahedral species {Au(P(C6H5)3)}62+. Gold chalcogenides, such as gold sulfide, feature equal amounts of Au(I) and Au(III).

Toxicity

Pure metallic (elemental) gold is non-toxic and non-irritating when ingested[66] and is sometimes used as a food decoration in the form of gold leaf. Metallic gold is also a component of the alcoholic drinks Goldschläger, Gold Strike, and Goldwasser. Metallic gold is approved as a food additive in the EU (E175 in the Codex Alimentarius). Although gold ion is toxic, the acceptance of metallic gold as a food additive is due to its relative chemical inertness, and resistance to being corroded or transformed into soluble salts (gold compounds) by any known chemical process which would be encountered in the human body.

Soluble compounds (gold salts) such as gold chloride are toxic to the liver and kidneys. Common cyanide salts of gold such as potassium gold cyanide, used in gold electroplating, are toxic by virtue of both their cyanide and gold content. There are rare cases of lethal gold poisoning from potassium gold cyanide.[67][68] Gold toxicity can be ameliorated with chelation therapy with an agent such as Dimercaprol.

Gold metal was voted Allergen of the Year in 2001 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society. Gold contact allergies affect mostly women.[69] Despite this, gold is a relatively non-potent contact allergen, in comparison with metals like nickel.[70]

Price

Like other precious metals, gold is measured by troy weight and by grams. When it is alloyed with other metals the term carat or karat is used to indicate the purity of gold present, with 24 carats being pure gold and lower ratings proportionally less. The purity of a gold bar or coin can also be expressed as a decimal figure ranging from 0 to 1, known as the millesimal fineness, such as 0.995 being very pure.

The price of gold is determined through trading in the gold and derivatives markets, but a procedure known as the Gold Fixing in London, originating in September 1919, provides a daily benchmark price to the industry. The afternoon fixing was introduced in 1968 to provide a price when US markets are open.

Historically gold coinage was widely used as currency; when paper money was introduced, it typically was a receipt redeemable for gold coin or bullion. In a monetary system known as the gold standard, a certain weight of gold was given the name of a unit of currency. For a long period, the United States government set the value of the US dollar so that one troy ounce was equal to $20.67 ($664.56/kg), but in 1934 the dollar was devalued to $35.00 per troy ounce ($1125.27/kg). By 1961, it was becoming hard to maintain this price, and a pool of US and European banks agreed to manipulate the market to prevent further currency devaluation against increased gold demand.

Swiss-cast 1 kg gold bar.

On March 17, 1968, economic circumstances caused the collapse of the gold pool, and a two-tiered pricing scheme was established whereby gold was still used to settle international accounts at the old $35.00 per troy ounce ($1.13/g) but the price of gold on the private market was allowed to fluctuate; this two-tiered pricing system was abandoned in 1975 when the price of gold was left to find its free-market level. Central banks still hold historical gold reserves as a store of value although the level has generally been declining. The largest gold depository in the world is that of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank in New York, which holds about 3%[citation needed] of the gold ever mined, as does the similarly laden U.S. Bullion Depository at Fort Knox.

In 2005 the World Gold Council estimated total global gold supply to be 3,859 tonnes and demand to be 3,754 tonnes, giving a surplus of 105 tonnes.[71]

Since 1968 the price of gold has ranged widely, from a high of $850/oz ($27,300/kg) on January 21, 1980, to a low of $252.90/oz ($8,131/kg) on June 21, 1999 (London Gold Fixing).[72] The period from 1999 to 2001 marked the "Brown Bottom" after a 20-year bear market.[73] Prices increased rapidly from 1991, but the 1980 high was not exceeded until January 3, 2008 when a new maximum of $865.35 per troy ounce was set.[74] Another record price was set on March 17, 2008 at $1023.50/oz ($32,900/kg).[74] In late 2009, gold markets experienced renewed momentum upwards due to increased demand and a weakening US dollar. On December 2, 2009, Gold passed the important barrier of US$1200 per ounce to close at $1215.[75] Gold further rallied hitting new highs in May 2010 after the European Union debt crisis prompted further purchase of gold as a safe asset.[76][77] On March 1, 2011, gold hit a new all-time high of $1432.57, based on investor concerns regarding ongoing unrest in North Africa as well as in the Middle East.[78]

Since April 2001 the gold price has more than tripled in value against the US dollar,[79] prompting speculation that this long secular bear market has ended and a bull market has returned.[80]

Symbolism

Gold bars at the Emperor Casino in Macau.

Gold has been highly valued in many societies throughout the ages. In keeping with this it has often had a strongly positive symbolic meaning closely connected to the values held in the highest esteem in the society in question. Gold may symbolize power, strength, wealth, warmth, happiness, love, hope, optimism, intelligence, justice, balance, perfection, summer, harvest and the sun.

Great human achievements are frequently rewarded with gold, in the form of gold medals, golden trophies and other decorations. Winners of athletic events and other graded competitions are usually awarded a gold medal (e.g., the Olympic Games). Many awards such as the Nobel Prize are made from gold as well. Other award statues and prizes are depicted in gold or are gold plated (such as the Academy Awards, the Golden Globe Awards, the Emmy Awards, the Palme d'Or, and the British Academy Film Awards).

Aristotle in his ethics used gold symbolism when referring to what is now commonly known as the "golden mean". Similarly, gold is associated with perfect or divine principles, such as in the case of Phi, which is sometimes called the "golden ratio".

Gold represents great value. Respected people are treated with the most valued rule, the "golden rule". A company may give its most valued customers "gold cards" or make them "gold members". We value moments of peace and therefore we say: "silence is golden". In Greek mythology there was the "golden fleece".

Gold is further associated with the wisdom of aging and fruition. The fiftieth wedding anniversary is golden. Our precious latter years are sometimes considered "golden years". The height of a civilization is referred to as a "golden age".

In Christianity gold has sometimes been associated with the extremities of utmost evil and the greatest sanctity. In the Book of Exodus, the Golden Calf is a symbol of idolatry. In the Book of Genesis, Abraham was said to be rich in gold and silver, and Moses was instructed to cover the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant with pure gold. In Christian art the halos of Christ, Mary and the Christian saints are golden.

Medieval kings were inaugurated under the signs of sacred oil and a golden crown, the latter symbolizing the eternal shining light of heaven and thus a Christian king's divinely inspired authority. Wedding rings have long been made of gold. It is long lasting and unaffected by the passage of time and may aid in the ring symbolism of eternal vows before God and/or the sun and moon and the perfection the marriage signifies. In Orthodox Christianity, the wedded couple is adorned with a golden crown during the ceremony, an amalgamation of symbolic rites.

In popular culture gold holds many connotations but is most generally connected to terms such as good or great, such as in the phrases: "has a heart of gold", "that's golden!", "golden moment", "then you're golden!" and "golden boy". Gold also still holds its place as a symbol of wealth and through that, in many societies, success.

State emblem

In 1965, the California Legislature designated gold "the State Mineral and mineralogical emblem."[81]

In 1968, the Alaska Legislature named gold "the official state mineral."[82]

See also

  • Altai Mountains
  • Bulk leach extractable gold
  • Commodity fetishism (Marxist economic theory)
  • Digital gold currency
  • Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee
  • Gold bubble
  • Gold fingerprinting
  • Gold Prospectors Association of America
  • Mining in Roman Britain
  • Prospecting
  • Roman engineering
  • Tumbaga

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