No doubt, gold is a beautiful and popular precious metal. But it’s also soft and tends to scratch easily. Making it more resilient requires mixing it with other metals, but that reduces its quality. Now a research team from the EPFL in Switzerland, with support from Swiss watchmaker Hublot, have created a very hard high-quality gold. And recently, they unveiled the shiny result.
“What is radically new is being able to make something that is both extremely hard and 18-karat gold. The challenge was to stick with that boundary,” said Andreas Mortensen, a metallurgy professor at the EPFL in Switzerland who led the work. Metallurgy lecturer Ludger Weber, postdoc Reza Tavangar and materials engineer Senad Hasanovic collaborated with Mortensen to develop the new gold.
Others have been able to make hard gold in the past but they haven’t been able to achieve the level of hardness required to meet the 18-karat standard, separating real gold from impure gold. Hublot filed for a patent on the new gold composite, Mortensen said. He called Hublot an adventurous company when it comes to designing with new materials. To make the new gold, the EPFL team used boron carbide, a ceramic that’s one of the hardest materials in the world, along with diamonds. This material has numerous applications, including as a component in bulletproof vests.