Gold has long been central to innovations in electronics. Today, its unique properties and the advent of 'nanotechnology' are driving new uses in medicine, engineering and environmental management.
Gold can be used to build highly-targeted methods for delivering drugs into the human body, to create conducting plastics and specialised pigments, or advanced catalysts that can purify water or air.
Gold is at the heart of simple, reliable tests that detect malaria and many other diseases; the tests can be used in developing economies without expensive equipment or complex supply chains.
Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs) work by applying a single drop of blood to a test strip. Gold nanoparticles drive a colour change on the strip that indicates whether a disease is present. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), hundreds of millions of RDTs were distributed globally in 2011.
Gold-containing catalytic converter technology could be the solution to a pressing environmental problem.
Gold can act as a catalyst (a material that accelerates chemical reactions without being consumed in the process) effective in reducing hazardous emissions to the air as well as removing industrial pollutants from groundwater. Read more about how gold catalytic converter technology works.
Gold nanotechnology research is developing more efficient and accurate methods of delivering cancer treatments.
Treating cancer is made more difficult because often the drugs used in chemotherapy can damage healthy cells. New treatment techniques using gold nanoparticles target and destroy cancer cells leaving the surrounding healthy tissues largely unaffected.