Novel Gold Compound: Stanford Researchers Discover Unique Chemical Phase in Innovative Material

by Klaus Müller
Gold Au2+ Stabilized by Halide Perovskite

Novel Gold Compound: Stanford Researchers Discover Unique Chemical Phase in Innovative Material

Researchers at Stanford University have engineered an unusual form of gold, denoted as Au2+, which is sustained by halide perovskite. This development has promising implications for the electronics and energy industries and establishes a connection to previous work by Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling.

A unique and chemically unstable variant of gold forms the cornerstone of a new crystalline substance that exhibits remarkable characteristics.

For the inaugural time, investigators at Stanford have successfully engineered a scarce form of gold that has shed two negatively charged electrons, represented as Au2+. This rare form of the precious metal is stabilized by halide perovskite, a category of crystalline materials with potential utility in an array of applications, such as enhanced solar cells, luminous sources, and components for electronic devices.

In a surprising turn of events, the compound featuring Au2+ perovskite can be synthesized with relative ease using readily available materials at ambient temperature.

“The fact that we could generate a stable compound with Au2+ was initially unbelievable to me,” stated Hemamala Karunadasa, the senior author of the study and Associate Professor of Chemistry at Stanford’s School of Humanities and Sciences. “The advent of this unprecedented Au2+ perovskite is captivating. The gold atoms in the perovskite exhibit strong resemblances to copper atoms in high-temperature superconductors, and atoms like Au2+ with unpaired electrons manifest fascinating magnetic properties not observable in lighter atoms.”

The structural elements of this gold-halide perovskite include elongated gold-chloride octahedra composed of gold surrounded by six adjacent chlorine atoms. These are represented in the structure as burnt-red octahedra for Au2+-chloride and gold octahedra for Au3+-chloride. Additional atomic elements include cesium and chlorine atoms. The study was credited to Karunadasa et al. in 2023.

“Halide perovskites have inherently appealing attributes for a multitude of common applications, and we aim to broaden this material family,” commented Kurt Lindquist, the study’s lead author, who is currently a postdoctoral scholar in inorganic chemistry at Princeton University. “An Au2+ perovskite of this nature could unveil new and intriguing possibilities.”

The Heavy Electrons in Gold

Gold has been prized since antiquity for its rarity, ductility, and chemical stability, enabling it to be fashioned into ornaments and coins that resist environmental corrosion. Its distinct color adds to its intrinsic value. Karunadasa elucidated the fundamental physics that make Au2+ so scarce, attributing it to relativistic effects in line with Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Because gold is a “massive” heavy element with a large number of protons, its electrons are compelled to move at velocities nearing the speed of light. This causes the electrons to gain mass and closely orbit the atomic nucleus, which leads to gold’s unique optical properties.

Discovery Through Serendipity

The Stanford team discovered that Au2+ could be stabilized in a specific molecular arrangement. Lindquist happened upon the Au2+ perovskite while working on a larger project related to magnetic semiconductors. He combined cesium chloride and Au3+-chloride in water, introducing hydrochloric acid and vitamin C into the mix. This produced Au2+, which proved to be stable in solid perovskite but not in liquid form.

“In a matter of minutes, we can create this substance at room temperature using basic ingredients,” Lindquist stated. “The resultant powder is a dark green, nearly black color and is notably dense owing to its gold content.”

The research, which contributes to the ongoing narrative of chemistry and physics initiated by Linus Pauling, was funded in part by various institutions, including the U.S. National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy. Further contributions came from faculty and researchers from various other universities and departments.

The team, led by Karunadasa and Lindquist, intends to continue exploring the material’s properties and potential applications, particularly in areas requiring magnetism and electrical conductivity.

Reference: The study, published on August 28, 2023, in Nature Chemistry, included contributions from multiple authors and institutions. Funding was provided by multiple agencies, including the U.S. National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Gold Au2+ Stabilized by Halide Perovskite

What new form of gold have Stanford researchers synthesized?

Stanford scientists have successfully synthesized a previously elusive form of gold known as Au2+, which is stabilized by a halide perovskite.

How is this new form of gold stabilized?

The Au2+ form of gold is stabilized by a halide perovskite, a class of crystalline materials with promising applications in various fields including solar cells and electronics.

What are the potential applications of this discovery?

The new material has potential applications in the electronics and energy sectors, including more-efficient solar cells, light sources, and electronic components.

How is this research connected to Linus Pauling’s work?

The findings draw connections to earlier research by Nobel laureate Linus Pauling who also worked on gold perovskites containing the more common forms Au1+ and Au3+.

Is this new form of gold easy to synthesize?

Surprisingly, the Au2+ perovskite can be quickly and simply synthesized using off-the-shelf ingredients at room temperature.

What are the intriguing properties of this new form of gold?

The gold atoms in the halide perovskite have strong similarities to copper atoms in high-temperature superconductors. Additionally, heavy atoms like Au2+ exhibit unique magnetic effects.

How does relativity play a role in the rarity of Au2+?

Due to relativistic effects, as explained by Einstein’s theory of relativity, gold’s electrons move at speeds approaching that of light, leading to unique electron arrangements that make Au2+ rare.

How was Au2+ synthesized in the lab?

Lead researcher Kurt Lindquist mixed cesium chloride and Au3+-chloride in water and added hydrochloric acid along with vitamin C. The resulting reaction formed a stable Au2+ in the solid perovskite.

What further studies are planned for this new material?

The research team plans to further study the material’s chemistry, with hopes that the Au2+ perovskite can be used in applications requiring magnetism and conductivity.

Who funded the research?

The research was funded in part by the U.S. National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Fonds de recherche du Québec–Nature et technologies, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Canada.

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Emily92 October 6, 2023 - 1:17 am

As someone interested in alternative energy, I’m excited about the implications this could have for more efficient solar cells. Science keeps on giving.

MarcusE October 6, 2023 - 2:40 am

Wait, they made this in room temp? And in just 5 mins? That’s not just science, that’s magic.

ChemLover October 6, 2023 - 3:18 am

relativistic effects in Chemistry? Einstein and gold in the same sentence. Wow, my two favorite subjects merged!

TechGeek October 6, 2023 - 4:33 am

honestly, the fact that they used vitamin C to stabilize Au2+ is mindblowing. Nature’s full of surprises!

SarahL October 6, 2023 - 9:42 am

Fascinating how they linked it back to Linus Pauling’s research. Makes you realize how scientific discoveries are like building blocks, each one laying foundation for the next.

JohnDoe October 6, 2023 - 10:03 am

Wow, this is groundbreaking stuff. Who would’ve thought that gold could have another form that’s actually stable? This could be a game changer in electronics, for sure.

Investor_Guy October 6, 2023 - 5:28 pm

Is it just me or should we be looking at how this could impact the gold market? The article didn’t really go into that.


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