Most people still tend to think of gold as a luxury material that is of no use outside of making jewellery and coins. But in reality, these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to using gold. Today virtually every sophisticated electronic device contains a certain amount of gold. From desktop computers to mobile phones, from car airbags to satellites, gold is the material of choice for high performance, reliability and safety critical applications.
Why is gold such an important metal when it comes to electronic hardware? Well, gold is not only one of the most efficient conductors of electricity, it is also extremely resistant to tarnishing and corrosion. These properties make gold the perfect metal for carrying electrical signals to and from the components used in today's electronic devices. Gold contained in connectors, switches and relay contacts ensures that today's electronic devices remain free from corrosion whilst enabling rapid and accurate transmission of digital data.
According to the World Gold Council, the average cell phone contains up to 50 milligrams of gold. And with around a billion cell phones being produced every year, each containing about half a dollar's worth of gold, which adds up to around half a billion dollars worth of gold every year, and that's just for cell phones! When you add to that the amount of gold that is used in PC's, laptops, watches, sound systems, cars, satellites, etc, you can easily see that gold is a commodity that will continue to increase in demand as we progress through the 21st century.
Gold is also used for a wide range of applications that rely on strict temperature control. For example, space vehicles and satellites are fitted with a gold-coated polyester film that reflects infrared radiation, which helps to stabilize core temperatures. The gold ensures that the darker colored parts of the spacecraft do not absorb excessive amounts of heat. In fact, over 40kg of gold was used in the construction of the space shuttle Columbia, which is known for its superior reflectivity, conductivity and resistance to corrosion.
Emerging technologies, along with continued advancements in existing electronic applications, are presenting even more new uses for gold. For example, conductive inks, touch sensitive technology and high-density data storage are all areas where gold can be used to provide significant improvements over existing technology. And as technology continues to progress through the 21st century, gold's inherent durability and conductivity will ensure it remains the material of choice for high-end applications.
So as you can see, virtually all electronic devices in today's world contain complex circuitry. The use of gold ensures that manufacturers can offer significant reliability in the performance of their products. Gold's resistance to environmental effects is perhaps its most important quality when it comes to electronic applications. Gold is the only metal that can ensure superior technical performance and reliability that remains unaltered over time.
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