Is it possible to make synthetic gold

Under Gold synthesis one understands the process of transmuting base metals into gold. Gold synthesis is possible with the help of particle accelerators or nuclear reactors, but in practice it is far too complex. Since it is only a stable isotope of gold, Au 197, there, nuclear reactions for gold synthesis must deliver this. Artificially produced, non-radioactive gold cannot be distinguished from naturally extracted gold.

Gold synthesis in the particle accelerator

A gold synthesis in the particle accelerator is possible in many ways. Since particle accelerators consume a lot of energy and the yield is low, the use of particle accelerators is generally unsuitable because the gold obtained in this way is more expensive than conventional gold.

Gold synthesis in the reactor

Gold can be produced in a nuclear reactor by irradiating platinum or mercury. Since platinum is more expensive than gold, platinum as a starting material is particularly uneconomical. Of the mercury, only the isotope can196Hg, which is contained in natural mercury with a content of 0.15%, when irradiated with slow neutrons by neutron capture and subsequent electron capture in the only stable gold isotope 197Au to be converted. The other mercury isotopes transform into one another when irradiated with slow neutrons or form mercury isotopes that transform into thallium through beta decay. With fast neutrons the isotope of mercury 198Hg, which is 9.97% in natural mercury, by splitting off a neutron into the mercury isotope 197Hg, which then disintegrates into gold. However, this reaction has a smaller cross-section and could only be carried out in fast breeders or with spallation neutron sources. It is also conceivable to knock several neutrons out of the other isotopes of mercury with very high-energy neutrons to produce mercury 197Hg. However, such high-energy neutrons can only be generated with the help of particle accelerators.

Because of its low efficiency, gold synthesis is of no economic importance, although in the 1950s a small amount of gold is said to have been produced for demonstration purposes in the USA by irradiating mercury in upward reactions in the nuclear reactor.

For the possibility of synthesizing other precious metals, see precious metal synthesis.

Gold synthesis by the philosopher's stone

Alchemists have dedicated themselves to the transmutation of the elements for centuries and looked for the "lapis philosophorum", the Philosopher's Stone. This is not really a magical stone, as the name suggests, but rather a red substance, similar to the elixir (arab. El Iksir), which the alchemist also uses Powder of projection called.

See also

Category: nuclear physics