This blog is my attempt to reconnect with the world of chemistry. I have a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry and make a living doing research for a large company in Michigan. As times have changed, that company has changed its focus and I no longer have as much chance to do the basic, fundamental research which I most enjoy. Through this blog, I am hoping to recapture the magic which I felt during my graduate (and undergraduate) days in college. Expect topics on chemistry and alchemy along with some non-chemistry related items which I think might be interesting.

"The chymists are a strange class of mortals, impelled by an almost insane impulse to seek their pleasure among smoke and vapour, soot and flame, poisons and poverty; yet among all these evils I seem to live so sweetly that may I die if I would change places with the Persian King."

Johann Joachim Becher (phlogistonist)
Acta Laboratorii Chymica Monacensis, seu Physica Subterranea, (1669).

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Golden Health

Gold has been used for medicinal purposes since the time of the Romans. Rightly or wrongly, gold was often used as a medical treatment for a variety of conditions. It does appear to have anti-bacterial properties, much like silver. In medieval Europe, pills were often coated with gold to "enhance" the benefits of the medicine. Paracelsus, the alchemist, developed a solution of colloidal gold which he named "Aurum Potable". He considered it a powerful elixer capable of curing all sorts of ills.

In recent years, gold has experienced a bit of a renaissance in the form of nano-particles. Gold nano-particles are being used for drug delivery systems, biosensors, optical devices, and catalysts, among other things. It's hard to get through a chemistry journal without seeing at least on paper on nano-gold. In retrospect, gold nano-particles aren't really all that new. First of all, they apparently already existed in nature. They were also used by the Romans to create red stained glass. In bulk form, gold is yellowish since it reflects light at the blue end of the spectrum less efficiently than other colors. However, if the size of the gold particles is significantly smaller than the wavelength of visible light, new interactions occur between the light and the gold surface, resulting in a red color. In aqueous suspensions, purple and yellow colors can also be obtained if the particles are allowed to aggregate. In fact, Paracelsus's purple "Aurum Potable" was a simple suspension of gold nano-particles.

As you can imagine, colloidal gold is now available all over the net (for example, here and here) for boosting your physical and mental health. Don't feel like drinking gold? No worries. They also sell nano-silver, nano-copper, nano-platinum, nano-palladium, nano-iridium, nano-titanium, and nano-zinc too.

Why am I mentioning gold's supposed health benefits? Apparently the Romans were on to something back in the day since it turns out their gold nano-particle based stained glass windows are good at removing volatile organic compounds from the air. Will we be seeing gold-based air purifiers in the stores soon? I can only imagine what the web marketeers are going to do with this information.

1 comment:

ichliebenberg said...

i'm interested in nano-gold.
But, i can't find out the specification of it.