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3 Unusual Uses for Gold — From Medicine to the Moon

by xyonent
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Gold has long attracted the attention of investors looking to diversify their portfolios, collectors seeking rarity, and fashionable people searching for an accessory to complement their style.

But beyond financial and retail uses, gold has other important uses.

According to the World Gold Council:Of the 4,898.8 tonnes of gold produced in 2023, 12% or 297.8 tonnes was consumed by the technology sector, of which 241.3 tonnes was used in electronics, 47.1 tonnes in other industrial markets and 9.5 tonnes was allocated to dentistry.

Gold plays a key role in these sectors despite only making up a relatively small portion of demand. Read on to find out how gold is used in the electronics, aerospace and medical markets.

1. Electronics

Gold is widely used in the electronics industry. It is a key component of semiconductors. Because it does not oxidize It is useful for electrical contacts where corrosion can be a problem.

Gold is also a highly malleable material, making it ideal for use on a small scale where precision is of utmost importance.

This small scale is Gold Nanoparticle InkWith just a small amount of gold, it is possible to print water-resistant circuits on a variety of surfaces. In addition to drugs and inks, nanoparticles can be used to Solar power conversion rate Up to 10 percent.

2. Aerospace

Gold is widely used in the aerospace industry, perhaps most famously in: Plating copper records It is installed on the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft. However, gold has many other uses in the aerospace sector.

This metal is used to make visors for spacewalk suits worn by astronauts and canopies for military aircraft. Gold is used because of its ability to reflect ultraviolet radiation, which occurs at high levels in the upper atmosphere and in outer space. These coatings help protect pilots and astronauts.

The film is Chemical Vapor Depositionuses gold-containing precursors and gases to deposit thin gold films onto substrates. Magnetron Sputtering Alternatively, gold can be bombarded with plasma in a vacuum chamber and allowed to condense onto a substrate. This second process is used in the manufacture of semiconductors and electronic devices.

Heat does not dissipate well in a vacuum, Gold Reflectance Gold is useful for reflecting solar radiation and preventing heat build-up in modules, thus protecting the crew and sensitive equipment from the extreme temperatures encountered in spacecraft. Gold is particularly good at reflecting infrared light, which is the main reason this metal was used in spacecraft. Constructing mirror elements For the James Webb Space Telescope.

For the same reason, gold is used in the manufacture of glass in buildings; not only does it give the glass a golden sheen, Reflects sunlight Reduces heat build-up within buildings.

3. Medicine

The oldest known use of gold in medicine is in dentistry, where it was first used an estimated 5,000 years ago.

As cultures shifted from nomadic hunter-gatherers to agricultural societies, human life spans increased by decades. With age came deterioration of the tissues that hold teeth in place. Gold wire was used to hold teeth in place, and evidence of this practice has been found. Ancient EgyptBetween Pre-Columbian civilizations Americas and Etruscan civilization The area now known as Italy.

today, Gold alloy It does not corrode, is resistant to acids, and has a similar hardness, so it is used in cosmetic prosthetics such as crowns, fillings, and grills to prevent damage to the surrounding teeth.

In medicine, gold salts were used in the 1800s for the following purposes: Cure tuberculosisThese salts grew in popularity thanks to the elite status that gold accorded them, but they were not very effective at treating disease. The drug was further improved with the invention of sodium gold thiosulfate in 1925. It was claimed to neutralize tuberculosis and boost the immune system, but its side effects were so severe that it was discontinued in the 1940s.

Although they were ineffective in treating tuberculosis, gold salts did have some therapeutic properties, most notably as anti-inflammatory agents. Rheumatoid arthritis From the late 1920s through the 1990s, modern drugs with fewer side effects and greater efficacy replaced gold salts.

Recent advances have enabled gold nanoparticles to be used in a variety of medical applications. Due to their reflective properties, Convenient for microscopic examination Not only for investigating cell structure, Diagnostic Imaging Identifying cancer cells. Gold nanoparticles have low toxicity and are therefore expected to increase the binding of drugs to cancer cells, making them a promising candidate for cancer treatment.

Additionally, nanoparticles are being used in rapid diagnostic tests, Check for malaria infection These tests have proven reliable and provide results within 15 minutes. Similar tests using gold nanoparticles have been developed to identify the presence of the COVID-19 virus.

Investor View

Gold’s primary role will likely remain in investment and jewellery manufacturing, at least for the foreseeable future, but that doesn’t mean the metal’s industrial uses won’t continue to expand.

Of course, one of the factors holding back gold’s industrial growth is the price of gold, which reached record levels in 2024.

Could that change in the future? In October 2023, NASA Launched the Psyche spacecraft The probe, aboard SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket, will travel to the all-metal asteroid 16 Psyche. 10 quadrillion dollars worth of goldA gold discovery on such a large scale could unlock the precious metal’s place in industrial applications, but it would take decades, possibly centuries, to access and mine the asteroid.

Meanwhile, gold’s position on Earth will remain stable.

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Securities Disclosure: I, Dean Belder, hold no direct investment interests in any of the companies mentioned in this article.

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