BEIJING: Chinese scientists have recently converted cheap copper into a material that is almost identical to gold. The material is expected to reduce the use of yellow, expensive metals in factories.
Professor Sun Jian and colleagues at the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics, at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Liaoning, shot a copper target with a jet of hot, electrically charged argon gas.
The fast-moving ionised particles blasted copper atoms off the target. The atoms cooled down and condensed on the surface of a collecting device, producing a thin layer of sand.
According to SCMP, the researchers put the material in a reaction chamber and used it as a catalyst to turn coal to alcohol, a sophisticated and difficult chemical process that only precious metals can handle efficiently.
“The copper nano particles achieved catalytic performance extremely similar to that of gold or silver,” Sun and collaborators said in a statement posted on the academy’s website on Saturday.
“The results proved that after processing, metal copper can transform from ‘chicken’ to ‘phoenix’,” claimed Sun, who was not immediately available for comment.
Copper has a similar weight and look to gold. For centuries it has attracted alchemists who saw it as a gateway to instant riches.