Scientists have figured out how to melt gold at room temperature.
An international team of researchers found this revelation almost accidentally.
Ludwig de Knoop, a postgraduate at Chalmers Technology University, was only interested in seeing how the highest increase in the level of an electron microscope affected the golden atoms.
"I was really surprised at the discovery," he said, after he learned that the surface layers were melted at room temperature.
"This is a remarkable phenomenon, and it gives us new, basic knowledge of gold," De Knoop added.
Using computational modeling, the team learned that the surface melt phase did not come from temperature increase, but defects in high electric fields.
Simply put, the golden atoms became excited.
Think of the electric field as a love interest: when near, atoms become tied up with the tongue, they are crushed and mostly lost – they lose their ordered structure and release almost all ties to one another.
"The discovery of how gold atoms can lose their structure in this way is not only spectacular, but also a significant scientific," according to Chalmers.
Together with the theoretician Mikael Juhani Kuisma of the Finnish University in Jivaskila, de Knouop and Ko "have opened new possibilities in materials science," says the university.
The researchers also found that it is possible to shift between a solid and molten structure, which can lead to new types of sensors, catalysts, transistors, and contactless components.
"Because we can control and change the properties of the surface atoms of the surface, it opens the doors for different types of applications," says co-author Eva Olson, a physics professor at Chalmers, in a statement.
Do not expect to start a criminal enterprise that melts gold by increasing the electric field.
"I would say this is not possible," De Knoop told Digital Trends.
Melting the surface of any object larger than a few nanometers wide (like its gold cone) "will require a voltage that is not available," he said.
The full details of the study were published in the journal Material for physical examination.
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