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Gold in Tech: Thermal Camouflage

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We continue to see amazing new technical applications for gold.

Now scientists have used the yellow metal to develop thermal camouflage that can make a person invisible to night vision cameras. 

The human body gives off heat in the form of infrared radiation that lights up a thermal imaging camera like a Christmas tree. Anybody who’s watched a modern war movie knows the power of night vision.

Using graphene, a few ions, some nylon and a little gold, scientists at Coskun Kocabas at the University of Manchester in the UK, along with colleagues at MIT as well as Bilkent University and the Izmir Institute of Technology in Turkey, have developed a camo system that will blend with the background temperature within seconds.

An article in Forbes describes how this works.

 The system involves two flexible electrodes: the top electrode is made up of layers of graphene while the bottom electrode is made of heat-resistant nylon coated with gold. Between them sits a liquid of positively and negatively charged ions. In the presence of a small voltage, the ions travel into the graphene, which is then able to absorb infrared radiation being emitted by the wearer.”

Not only can thermal camouflage allow a person to blend in with their temperature surroundings, it can also disguise a hot item as cold or a cold item as hot.

According to the Forbes article, the new material could be incorporated into fabrics to create wearable camo. It also has potential uses beyond thermal invisibility. For instance, it could be used as a better heat shield for spacecraft.

This is just one of many new applications for gold in the technology sector. The demand for gold in tech applications grew for the seventh consecutive quarter in Q2 2018.

Over the past decade, the tech sector accounted for more than 380 tons of gold demand annually. That’s 13% ahead of central bank purchases during the same time period.

As we reported recently, demand for gold in the healthcare field is also growing quickly. And just last month, researchers developed a gold nanoparticle that could open the door to improving the storage of solar energy.

Tech demand for both gold and silver will likely continue to increase over the next several decades. This could have a significant impact on overall demand for these precious metals. Silver demand has always been heavily influenced by industrial use, but gold is becoming more and more important in industry, especially in high tech applications.

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