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No doubt, gold is a beautiful and popular precious metal. But it's also soft and tends to scratch easily. Making it more resilient requires mixing it with other metals, but that reduces its quality. Now a research team from the EPFL in Switzerland, with support from Swiss watchmaker Hublot, have created a very hard high-quality gold. And recently, they unveiled the shiny result.
“What is radically new is being able to make something that is both extremely hard and 18-karat gold. The challenge was to stick with that boundary,” said Andreas Mortensen, a metallurgy professor at the EPFL in Switzerland who led the work. Metallurgy lecturer Ludger Weber, postdoc Reza Tavangar and materials engineer Senad Hasanovic collaborated with Mortensen to develop the new gold.
To make the new gold, the EPFL team used boron carbide, a ceramic that’s one of the hardest materials in the world, along with diamonds. This material has numerous applications, including as a component in bulletproof vests.
“What Professor Mortensen and his group have done is to come up with a very nice material that has a combination of the luster of gold but it has the strength of other metals that are much stronger,” Chawla said. “The composite material really tries to give you the best of both worlds.” Mortensen points out that metal combinations have been completed many times before. “Boron carbide has been combined with aluminum. The goal was different, but that’s been done,” he said. “The difference is that this is gold. It makes people dream.”