The World Gold Council conducts research into the existing and emerging technology markets for gold. Technology related uses of gold, including electronics, dentistry, medicine and nanotechnology, account for around 12% of gold demand (an annual average of 453 tonnes during the period from 2007 to 2011). Our market intelligence and insights allow us to develop new technologies and support markets in a way that protects, strengthens and expands the role gold plays in industrial applications.
Electronics is the single largest area of gold usage in technology. In 2011, gold usage in electronics was 320 tonnes. Gold is the material of choice in many electronic applications, especially transportation, telecommunications, information technology and other high performance and safety critical applications. A typical mobile device can contain in the region of 50mg of gold. As a result of the growth of the global electronics market, long term annual consumption of gold in electronics has been positive.
Although gold remains an important material in dentistry, its use by dentists is slowly declining. In 2005, the industry used 67 tonnes of gold but this had declined to 43 tonnes by 2011. Use of new ceramics and cheaper base metal alloys have increased at the expense of gold-based restorations. However, the key advantages of gold and its alloys remain; its bio-compatibility, malleability and resistance to corrosion continue to position gold as a key material for certain dental applications.
Gold is used in a wide range of other technology-related applications, providing outstanding performance due to its unique combination of technical properties. For example, gold demonstrates excellent biocompatibility within the human body, resulting in a number of direct applications of gold as a medical material.
The unique properties of gold nanoparticles are leading to its use in a growing number of applications within this field. For example, gold is an active catalyst for many commercially important reactions. A catalyst is a substance or material that accelerates the rate of a chemical reaction without itself being consumed by the reaction. Catalysts are an essential component of many different industrial processes used to produce chemicals and foodstuffs. They also provide solutions to controlling emissions from industrial processes and vehicles.
We are witnessing an explosion of interest in the use of gold throughout science and technology. Exciting breakthroughs are regularly reported from some of the world’s leading academic and industrial institutions. New sources of demand for gold are likely as it takes a key role in advanced technologies such as novel medical diagnostics, water purification, and solar cells.
The World Gold Council sponsored science journal, Gold Bulletin, reviews and publishes ground-breaking research relating to the use of gold in technology.