Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Gold

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Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au (from its Latin name aurum) and atomic number 79. It is a highly sought-after precious metal, having been used as money, as a store of value, in jewelry, in sculpture, and for ornamentation since the beginning of recorded history. The metal occurs as nuggets or grains in rocks, underground "veins" and in alluvial deposits. Gold is dense, soft, shiny and the most malleable and ductile substance known. Pure gold has a bright yellow color traditionally considered attractive. It is one of the coinage metals and formed the basis for the gold standard used before the collapse of the Bretton Woods system in 1971. The ISO currency code of gold bullion is XAU.

Modern industrial uses include dentistry and electronics, where gold has traditionally found use because of its good resistance to oxidative corrosion. Chemically, gold is a transition metal and can form trivalent and univalent cations upon solvation. At STP it is attacked by aqua regia, forming chloroauric acid and by alkaline solutions of cyanide but not by hydrochloric, nitric or sulphuric acids. Gold dissolves in mercury, forming amalgam alloys, but does not react with it. Gold is insoluble in nitric acid, which will dissolve silver and base metals, and is the basis of the gold refining technique known as "inquartation and parting". Nitric acid has long been used to confirm the presence of gold in items, and this is the origin of the colloquial term "acid test," referring to a gold standard test for genuine value.


Gold is the most malleable and ductile of all metals; a single gram can be beaten into a sheet of one 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.

Gold readily creates alloys with many other metals. These alloys can be produced to increase the hardness or to create exotic colors (see below). Gold is a good conductor of heat and electricity, and is not affected by air and most reagents. Heat, moisture, oxygen, and most corrosive agents have very little chemical effect on gold, making it well-suited for use in coins and jewelry; conversely, halogens will chemically alter gold, and aqua regia dissolves it via formation of the chloraurate ion.

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.

Doctoral research undertaken by Frank Reith at the Australian National University, and publised in 2004, shows that microbes can play an important role in forming gold deposits, transporting and precipitating gold to form grains and nuggets that collect in alluvial deposits.

High quality pure metallic gold is tasteless; in keeping with its resistance to corrosion (it is metal ions which confer taste to metals).

In addition, gold is very dense, a cubic meter weighing 19300 kg. By comparison, the density of lead is 11340 kg/m³, and that of the densest element, osmium, is 22610 kg/m³.

Color of gold

Mainly, Gold appears to be metallic yellow. Gold, caesium and copper are the only elemental metals with a natural color other than gray or white. The usual gray color of metals depends on their "electron sea" that is capable of absorbing and re-emitting photons over a wide range of frequencies. Gold reacts differently, depending on subtle relativistic effects that affect the orbitals around gold atoms.

3 comments:

faridah said...

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