Properties of Gold

When you hear the word “Gold,” you probably think of rings, earrings, and other jewelry. You also might think of ingots, and the price of this substance after you’ve invested in it. However, one of the areas of gold that is practically never examined are the chemical and physical properties of gold.

Gold, to start off with is represented on the periodic table by the symbol Au, with the atomic number of 79. It bears the Au symbol from its ancient Latin name Aurum.

Gold, for the most part is quite inert, which means that it doesn’t often react with other chemicals. However, this is not always the case. Chlorine, fluorine, aqua regia and cyanide all attack the molecular structure of element 79. Gold also dissolves in Mercury, but it does not react with it to form new products. Nitric acid, which dissolves silver as well as many base metals can not dissolve gold, and this is the basis of the gold refining technique known as “inquartation and parting.” This is how gold is detected in unknown substances, because it is insoluble in this almost universal acid. This actually is reason why the term “acid test” was coined.

On the physical side of gold, it is the most ductile and malleable metal in the entire periodic table. A single gram can be beaten into a sheet with a surface area of an entire square meter. If given an ounce of gold, a 300 foot sheet can be hammered out. This rare element can be hammered so thin that it becomes translucent. Any light passing through the gold sheet appears greenish-blue, as gold reflects the clours red and yellow most strongly.

Gold is one of the world’s most efficient conductors of electricity, and high-quality wire is often made from this element. It can also conduct heat with relative ease. Even the most corrosive agents cannot harm gold. If gold comes into contact with a halogen (Any element in group 13 of the periodic table) it will become vastly altered in its chemical makeup.

Gold purity is measured in units known as carats. 24 carat gold is the most expensive gold type, as it is 100% pure gold, with no impurities. The lower the number of carats, the more impurities you will find in that gold.

Well there you have it, a more detailed look in element 79, gold. While it is mostly thought of as what you find in your wedding ring, there is a fascinating world of chemistry surrounding that magical material.