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Most metals have very high melt points, not the very least gold—which turns right into a liquid at temperatures above 1,947 levels Fahrenheit (1,064 degrees Celsius).

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But now, researchers from Chalmers university of technology in Sweden have discovered a method to melt gold at room temperature. The surprised finding came around while researcher were investigating yellow samples using an electron microscopic lense (EM).

Unlike optical microscopes that usage visible light and also a mechanism of lenses to magnify little objects, EMs usage electrons to develop images that extremely tiny objects. In fact, v this technique it is possible to examine individual atoms.

In an experiment, Ludvig de Knoop, native Chalmers" room of Physics, inserted a small piece of gold in an electron microscopic lense to see exactly how an electric field affected the yellow atoms. He boosted the electrical field step-by-step while using the highest possible magnification.

"We wanted to view what happens to gold as soon as it is under the affect of an extremely high electric field," de Knoop called "A known impact when using such high electric fields on steels is the they evaporate, that is, they cook off from the heavy metal."

When he studied the atom in recordings taken native the microscope, he i found it something completely unexpected—the surface layers that gold had melted, regardless of being in ~ room temperature.

"It wasn"t till later, when we analyzed the data and also the recorded movies, the we understood that we had witnessed something new and spectacular," the said. "The large surprise with our work that the outermost few atomic surface ar layers of gold melted prior to they evaporate. More on, us realised the we could controllably switch the framework from surface melted earlier to being ordered by convert the electrical field."

"This is an particularly phenomenon, and it gives us new, foundational understanding of gold," he said in a statement.


The illustration shows the atoms of a yellow cone exposed come a strong electric field. We also see the ar (around the guideline of the cone) the excites the yellow atoms. They break nearly all their relations to every other and the surface ar layers begin to melt.Alexander EricsonAccording to the researchers, the yellow atoms came to be excited under the affect of the electric field, which brought about them come suddenly shed their ordered structure, breaking the bonds in between them. It to be deducted that the electric field caused defects to kind in the gold surface layers, melt the surface.

"We have actually collaborated carefully with theoreticians who discovered from your simulations the at together high electric fields, the atoms at the surface space much an ext loosely tied to each other and are therefore totally free to relocate around," de Knoop said. "Important to keep in mind is that it is only the 2-3 outmost atomic layers that endure the electric field, further into the gold cone the electrical field is zero and also the atoms room ordered and also structured in your usual way. This is an important difference compared to the melting gold by increasing the temperature."

The team additionally propose that the observation may be down to a phenomenon well-known as "low-dimensional step transition," according to a document describing the exploration published in the newspaper Physical evaluation Materials.

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The recent results can have far-reaching implications because that the ar of products science, opened up the opportunity for various applications in future, the team says.

"Primarily, the exploration is of prestige for straightforward science," Eva Olsson, one more author of the examine from Chalmers, said. "Anything that gives us with brand-new knowledge the how, in this case, a steel behaves, is interesting and significant. We might see a variety of possible applications. To be able to control a couple of atomic great of a metal in this fashion could for example open up for brand-new applications in sensors, catalysts or field-effect transistors, or, for brand-new concepts for contactless components. The is crucial to spread out the news around the effect because it deserve to inspire novel applications."