Scientists have found a way to melt gold at room temperature.
An international team of researchers found this disclosure almost accidentally.
Ludvig de Knoop, a postdoc at Chalmers University of Technology, was only interested in seeing how the highest magnification level of an electron microscope affects the gold atom.
"I was really fascinated by the discovery," he said, after discovering that the surface layer had melted – at room temperature.
"This is an extraordinary phenomenon, and it gives us new knowledge about gold," de Knoop added.
Using computational modeling, the team learned that the melting phase of the surface did not come from an increase in temperature, but rather damage to a high electric field.
Simply put, gold atoms become excited.
Imagine an electric field as an interest in love: When near, atoms become tongue-tied, sweaty, and generally confused – losing organized structures and releasing almost all connections with each other.
"The discovery of how gold atoms can lose their structure in this way is not only spectacular, but also scientifically innovative," according to Chalmers.
Together with Mikael Juhani Kuisma theorists from the University of Jyväskylä, de Knoop & Co. Finland has opened a new path in material science, "said the University.
The researchers also found that it was possible to switch between solid and liquid structures, which could lead to new types of sensors, catalysts, transistors and contactless components.
"Because we can control and change the properties of surface atomic layers, it opens the door to various types of applications," study author Eva Olsson, a professor in the Chalmers Physics Department, said in a statement.
Don't expect to start a criminal business by melting gold blocks by increasing the electric field.
"I will say that this is not possible," de Knoop told Digital Trends.
"Melting the surface of objects larger than a few nanometers wide (like the golden cone)" will require a voltage that is not available, "he said.
Full details of this research are published in the journal Physical Examination Material.
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