Published: 04 Sep 2017

Gold - an amazing metal

Grand and lustrous in its appearance, yet useful in its chemistry - it is not often that we come across an element on our planet that is as widely suitable for human use as gold. One of the rarest precious metals to be found on our planet, gold has a plethora of amazing properties that are employed in a range of different industries from space travel to dentistry to cutting edge electronics, so let’s learn a little more about its properties.

Gold being a chemical element, cannot be manufactured. To use it, we must find it in nature alone. Gold is close to 19 times denser than water with a density of 19.3g/cm3, and is the 5th densest metal on planet earth. Yet, gold in its purest form is extremely soft; a characteristic which can be attributed to the manner in which the gold particles arrange themselves while in solid form.

Gold is also the most malleable of all the metals on the planet. Malleability refers to the ability of a metal to be flatenned into sheets. A single gram of gold can be beaten into a sheet that is 1 square meter in size; it would look like aluminium foil, but made out of gold and a lot thinner. It is for these reasons that gold is also extremely ductile, which means it can be made into extremely long and thin wires while using very little of it in mass. Drawn into fine wires that are micrometers in diameter, gold wiring is often used in electric circuit boards to improve performance.

Gold’s malleability and ductility serve to compliment its other chemical properties, which include excellent heat and electric conduction, and the reduction of friction and wear. NASA even uses flattened sheets of gold foil to conduct and reflect heat away from specialized equipment on its spacecrafts.

While man can do so much with gold, by itself gold is mostly inert. In fact, it is one of the least reactive elements on our planet -- due to its atomic structure. It is for this reason that gold seldom tarnishes or rusts in spite of being exposed to the elements of the world.