Monday, January 3, 2011

Japanese Researchers Use Nanotechnology to Produce Artificial Palladium

Recently, Japanese researchers have used nanotechnology to develop a process that resembles something out of a 16th Century alchemy textbook. Although not producing gold, as was the aim of the alchemists, the researchers have discovered a technique which allows otherwise inert elements to be combined to form new intermediate alloy-elements. So far, an alloy of palladium has been created by mixing rhodium and silver together.

Prof. Hiroshi Kitagawa and his team used nanotechnology to combine silver and rhodium to produce an alloy with similar properties to palladium, which is located between silver and rhodium on the periodic table. These two metals usually would not mix, as silver has 47 electrons and rhodium has 45 electrons, and so are stable elements unable to react with each other under normal conditions. The research team overcame this hurdle by mixing silver and rhodium in solution which was then turned into a mist and mixed with heated alcohol. This process produced particles of the new alloy that are around 10 nanometres in diameter.

The new alloy has properties similar to the rare metal palladium. Part of the platinum group of metals, palladium should not to be confused with the rare earth minerals (also known as rare earth metals), a collection of seventeen elements in the periodic table, namely yttrium, scandium, and the fifteen lanthanides. Although the platinum group of metals are distinct from the rare earth metals, they are still hard to come by due to their global concentration and distribution.

The properties of palladium and other platinum group metals account for their widespread uses in electronics, medicine, manufacturing, hydrogen purification, chemical applications and groundwater treatment.

Although the new alloy will be difficult to produce commercially, Prof. Kitagawa intends to use the production method to develop other alloys for use as alternative rare metals. Prof. Kitagawa has begun joint the research project with auto manufactures to further his research. The alloy was produced by researchers at Kyoto University, Japan.

So what is the point of this all? If this happens, dreams and hopes of the alchemists to be realized, the wealth would be very easy to be achieved by everyone. Just imagine that.


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