The most exciting breakthroughs coming from the world’s leading organisations
We are seeing an explosion of interest in the use of gold in science and technology. Exciting breakthroughs are occurring regularly within some of the world’s leading academic and industrial institutions.
The need for effective and safe treatments of disease has never been greater. Gold is playing a key role in a number of emerging therapies. The innovative drug delivery company, Cytimmune, is due to start phase II clinical trials with its gold-based tumour targeting technology. Nanospectra, another US-based bioscience company, has also successfully completed clinical studies with its tumour ablation technology, Aurolase. Researchers at the world renowned MD Anderson cancer centre in Houston are making rapid progress with their radio-frequency heated gold nanoparticle cancer treatment.
Simple gold nanoparticle-enabled diagnostics are already on the market. Now the next generation of technology is just around the corner. Numerous world class academics and industrialists are active in this field, with companies such as Nanosphere already marketing whole diagnostic platforms based on gold nanoparticles. Smaller start-ups such as Nanocomposix, Nanodiscovery and BioAssay Works are also progressing towards the commercialisation of various gold based diagnostic technologies.
A key challenge over coming years will be the battle against infection as bacteria become increasingly resilient to known antibacterial and antimicrobial treatments. Early studies have shown that gold nanoparticles display considerable antimicrobial activity, possibly providing a new weapon in the fight against infection.
The production of most industrially important substances and chemicals involves the use of a catalyst to improve the efficiency and economics of the process. Gold is proving to be an important catalytic material, with numerous industrial processes benefitting from its unique reactivity. It is not just chemical catalysis that is benefiting – more efficient autocatalysts, which incorporate gold, are being developed.
Mercury and carbon monoxide are highly toxic substances, damaging to human health as well as the environment. Gold is offering effective solutions in the fight against both. Innovative research has proven that gold-based materials can prevent these substances escaping into the atmosphere.
Contaminated groundwater is a key environmental issue, affecting millions of people worldwide on a daily basis. Gold nanoparticles are currently helping in the fight for pure water. Researchers are demonstrating the unique ability of these particles to break down harmful chlorinated pollutants and to determine pesticide concentrations in water supplies.
Diminishing oil and gas supplies mean that energy will probably be the biggest challenge of the 21st century. Intelligent use of gold in fuel cells (separator plate technology) and lithium-air batteries (gold-alloy catalysts) has shown significantly improved efficiency. Early stage work using gold nanoparticles in solar cells is also promising.
Continued advancements in electronic applications are unearthing new uses for gold. Conductive inks, touch sensitive screen technology and high density data storage are all areas where gold could be used to improve existing technology. As technology continues to advance, gold’s inherent durability and conductivity will ensure it remains the material of choice for high end applications.
- Astrazeneca partner with Cytimmune to develop new gold nanomedicine
- Australian researchers create antibacterial gold nanoparticles
- Chloroform cleanup: just the beginning for palladium-gold catalysts
- Developing faster, cheaper methods of diagnosing infectious disease with gold
- Cheap colour test picks up HIV with tiny flecks of gold
- Chemists - going for gold
- Nature Outlook: Gold published
- The Romans were the original nanotechnology pioneers
- Stanford scientists break the record for thinnest light-absorber
- UC Santa Barbara scientists develop a new way of harvesting energy from the sun