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New Process Using Gold Could Help Develop Artificial Muscles

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There is healing power in gold. Not only does the yellow metal  serve as an investment as well as money, it is increasingly being used in technological applications, particularly in the healthcare field.

A recent advance reported by Science Daily could significantly improve medical implants. Researchers from the University of Basel have modified short-chain silicones in a way that allows them to build strong bonds to gold atoms. This process could be used to develop artificial muscles.

As Science Daily explains, silicones work well in the human body because they resemble surrounding human tissue in elasticity and resilience. Gold has excellent electrical conductivity. When bound with silicone the yellow metal is ideal for medical implants. But under normal conditions, gold only weakly binds to silicone. This results in unstable structures.

New research has solved this problem.

An interdisciplinary research team of the Biomaterials Science Center and the Department of Chemistry at the University of Basel has developed a procedure that allows binding single gold atoms to the ends of polymer chains. This procedure makes it possible to form stable and homogeneous two-dimensional gold films on silicone membranes. Thus, for the first time, ultra-thin conductive layers on silicone rubber can be built…Using masks, the sandwich structures fabricated can convert electrical energy into mechanical work similar to human muscles.”

Effectively, this process allows for the creation of dielectric artificial muscles. The technology could be developed to serve as pressure sensors and may even be used to harvest electrical energy from body movement in the future.

This isn’t the only application for gold in the realm of healthcare. Gold nanoparticles are being used in hundreds of millions of Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs). The gold drives a color change on the test strip in the presence of various disease. Scientists have developed test strips that can diagnose malaria, HIV/Aids, hepatitis, sleeping sickness, and syphilis with just a drop of blood.

The healthcare applications of gold, as well as silver, are preserving lives. Gold and silver have also historically helped people preserve and build wealth. Call 1-888-GOLD-160 to speak with a SchiffGold Precious Metals Specialist to learn more.

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