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iso NA half-life DM DE (MeV) DP

Template:Elementbox isotopes decay Template:Elementbox isotopes decay2 Template:Elementbox isotopes stable Template:Elementbox isotopes decay Template:Elementbox isotopes decay Template:Elementbox isotopes end Template:Elementbox footer Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [3]

Gold (Template:PronEng) is a chemical element with the symbol Au (from the Latin aurum, meaning shining dawn) and atomic number 79. 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 of the known metals. Pure gold has a bright yellow color traditionally considered attractive.

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 trivalent and univalent transition metal. Gold does not react with most chemicals, but is attacked by chlorine, fluorine, aqua regia and cyanide. 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 this 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 metal; 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 forms alloys with many other metals. These alloys can be produced to increase the hardness or to create exotic colors (see below). Native gold contains usually eight to ten percent silver, but often much more — alloys with a silver content over 20% are called electrum. As the amount of silver increases, the color becomes whiter and the specific gravity becomes lower.

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.

Recent research undertaken by Sir Frank Reith of the Australian National University shows that microbes play an important role in forming gold deposits, transporting and precipitating gold to form grains and nuggets that collect in alluvial deposits.[1]

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 the densest element, Iridium, is 22650 kg/m³.


As the metal

  • 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. Some gold salts do have anti-inflammatory properties and are used as pharmaceuticals in the treatment of arthritis and other similar conditions. 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.
  • Dentistry 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 (Colloidal sols of gold nanoparticles) in water are intensely red-colored, and can be made with tightly-controlled particle sizes up to a few tens of nm 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 (Faulk and Taylor 1979). In ultrathin sections of tissues viewed by electron microscopy, the immunogold labels appear as extremely dense round spots at the position of the antigen (Roth et al. 1980).
  • 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 SEM's 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.
  • The isotope gold-198, (half-life: 2.7 days) is used in some cancer treatments and for treating other diseases.[2]

As gold chemical compounds

Gold is attacked by and dissolves in alkaline solutions of potassium or sodium cyanide, and 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 sols, contains evenly-sized spherical gold nanoparticles.


Although gold is a noble metal, it forms many and diverse compounds. The oxidation state of gold in its compound ranges from -1 to 5+ but Au(I) and Au(III) dominate. Gold(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 zig-zag polymeric chains, again featuring linear coordination at Au. Most drugs based on gold are Au(I) derivatives.[3]

Gold(III) (“auric”) is a common oxidation state and is illustrated by gold(III) chloride, AuCl3. Its derivative is chloroauric acid, HAuCl4, which forms when Au dissolves in aqua regia. Au(III) complexes, like other d8 compounds, are typically square planar.

Less common oxidation states: Au(-I), Au(II), and Au(V)

Compounds containing the Au- anion are called aurides. Caesium auride, CsAu which crystallizes in the caesium chloride motif. Other aurides include those of Rb+, K+, and tetramethylammonium (CH3)4N+.[4] Gold(II) compounds are usually diamagnetic with Au-Au bonds such as [Au(CH2)2P(C6H5)2]2Cl2. A noteworthy, legitimate Au(II) complex contains xenon as a ligand, [AuXe4](Sb2F11)2.[5] Gold pentafluoride is the sole example of Au(V), the highest verified oxidation state.[6]

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.[4] In such cases, gold has a fractional oxidation state. A representative example is the octahedral species {Au(P(C6H5)3)}62+. Gold chalcogenides, e.g. "AuS" feature equal amounts of Au(I) and Au(III).


There is one stable isotope of gold, and 18 radioisotopes with 195Au being the most stable with a half-life of 186 days.


Pure gold is non-toxic and non-irritating when ingested[7] and is sometimes used as a food decoration in the form of gold leaf. It is also a component of the alcoholic drinks Goldschläger, Gold Strike, and Goldwasser. Gold is approved as a food additive in the EU (E175 in the Codex Alimentarius).

Soluble compounds (gold salts) such as potassium gold cyanide, used in gold electroplating, are toxic to the liver and kidneys. There are rare cases of lethal gold poisoning from potassium gold cyanide.[8][9] Gold toxicity can be ameliorated with chelating agents such as British anti-Lewisite.


  1. "Environment & Nature News - Bugs grow gold that looks like coral - 28/01/2004". Retrieved 2006-07-22.
  2. Nanoscience and Nanotechnology in Nanomedicine: Hybrid Nanoparticles In Imaging and Therapy of Prostate Cancer - Radiopharmaceutical Sciences Institute, University of Missouri-Columbia
  3. Shaw III, C. F. (1999). "Gold-Based Medicinal Agents". Chemical Reviews. 99 (9): 2589–2600. doi:10.1021/cr980431o.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Holleman, A. F.; Wiberg, E. "Inorganic Chemistry" Academic Press: San Diego, 2001. ISBN 0-12-352651-5.
  5. Seidel, S.; Seppelt, K. (2000). "Xenon as a Complex Ligand: The Tetra Xenono Gold(II) Cation in AuXe42+(Sb2F11)2". Science. 290 (5489): 117–118. doi:10.1126/science.290.5489.117.
  6. Riedel, S.; Kaupp, M. (2006). "Revising the Highest Oxidation States of the 5d Elements: The Case of Iridium(+VII)". Angewandte Chemie International Edition. 45 (22): 3708–3711. doi:10.1002/anie.200600274.
  7. S Dierks (May 2005). "Gold MSDS". Electronic Space Products International.
  8. I. H. Wright, C. J. Vesey (1986) Acute poisoning with gold cyanide Anaesthesia 41 (9), 936–939. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2044.1986.tb12920.x [1]
  9. Wu, Ming-Ling; Tsai, Wei-Jen; Ger, Jiin; Deng, Jou-Fang; Tsay, Shyh-Haw; Yang, Mo-Hsiung. J. toxicol., Clin. toxicol. Metals. 2001, vol. 39, no 7, pp. 739-743 ISSN 0731-3810 [2]


  • Faulk W, Taylor G (1979) An Immunocolloid Method for the Electron Microscope Immunochemistry 8, 1081–1083.
  • Kodak (2006) Toning black-and-white materials. Technical Data/Reference sheet G-23, May 2006.
  • Roth J, Bendayan M, Orci L (1980) FITC-Protein A-Gold Complex for Light and Electron Microscopic Immunocytochemistry. Journal of Histochemistry and Cytochemistry 28, 55–57.
  • World Gold Council, Jewellery Technology, Jewellery Alloys
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory – Gold

External links

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