Gold has many unique qualities – it is exceptionally malleable and ductile, conductive and does not corrode or tarnish. Gold also combines well with other metals to form an alloy. Its versatility makes it ideal for use in many industrial applications, and increasingly, its application as a nanomaterial is being used to create new solutions for a number of health and environmental challenges.
Principal uses of Gold
Gold is a long-term store of value independent of other assets. As its price often moves contra-cyclically, it can protect or enhance the performance of an investment portfolio, and reduce volatility.
The volumes of gold bought by investors have increased steadily over the past three decades. Investment demand increased by 40% in 2020 owing to increased economic uncertainty, increased stock of negative-yielding debt, and uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Central banks are also a strong source of demand, with volumes having increased steadily over the past decade
Historically, gold jewellery has been the strongest source of demand, accounting for around 50% of total demand. In 2020, jewellery demand fell, largely because of curtailed economic activity because of the pandemic. The largest markets are India and China
Medicine and dentistry
- Gold nanoparticles are used in rapid diagnostic testing, which have helped to revolutionise the diagnosis of diseases such as HIV/Aids. Gold nanoparticles also deliver anti-cancer drugs directly to tumours.
- Gold-based drugs are being developed to treat diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
- Gold’s being malleable and non-allergenic makes it ideal for use in dentistry.
Technology, aerospace, environment
- Gold wire is widely used in almost all electronic devices that make the internet function – computers, mobile phones, global positioning systems, etc. As an efficient and reliable conductor and connector, it enables the rapid, accurate transmission of data.
- In space, layers of gold are used to protect astronauts and equipment from heat and radiation.
- Gold nanoparticles are used to improve the efficiency of solar cells and panels.
- Environmentally, nanoparticles are used to clean contaminated groundwater by breaking down pollutants.