SCIENTISTS in China have learnt how to turn cheap copper into “gold” – and it could have a significant impact on the price of precious metals.
The Chinese research team managed to turn cheap copper metal into a new material almost identical in composition to gold using jets of hot, electronically charged argon gas.
The fast-moving ionised particles blasted copper atoms off a target metal sheet.
As the atoms cooled down and condensed, a thin layer of ‘sand’ began to form on the surface of a collecting device.
Scientists noted that each grain of sand was only a few nanometres in diameter – around 1/1000th the size of bacterium.
After putting this sandy material into a reaction chamber, it was used to turn coal into alcohol.
During the process, the copper nano particles that made up the sandy substance acted in the same way a precious metal would behave, with scientists hailing the process a success.
"The copper nano particles achieved catalytic performance extremely similar to that of gold or silver," scientists behind the project said in a statement.
"The results … proved that after processing, metal copper can transform from 'chicken' to 'phoenix.'"
The astounding discovery was made by a team of scientists from the Institute of Chemical Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Liaoning as they tried to find a ‘gold replacement’.
However, before rushing out to turn your own coppers into little nuggets of gold, it’s worth noting that this new material created in the Chinese labs is still essentially copper.
It will however be beneficial to the world of manufacturing as the new material has been found to resist high temperatures, oxidisation and erosion.
Professor Sun Jian described his team’s findings as: “Like a warrior with golden armour in a battlefield, capable of withstanding any enemy assault.”
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