gold/Au, the making of, and some mythology at the end.



It transpired that, under true nuclear transmutation, it is far easier to turn gold into lead than the reverse reaction, which was the one the alchemists had ardently pursued. Nuclear experiments have successfully transmuted lead into gold, but the expense far exceeds any gain. It would be easier to convert gold into lead via neutron capture and beta decay by leaving gold in a nuclear reactor for a long period of time.
Glenn Seaborg produced several thousand atoms of gold from bismuth, but at a net loss.
More information on gold synthesis, see Synthesis of precious metals.
197Au + n198Au (halflife 2.7 days) → 198Hg + n → 199Hg + n → 200Hg + n → 201Hg + n → 202Hg + n → 203Hg (halflife 47 days) → 203Tl + n → 204Tl (halflife 3.8 years) → 204Pb (halflife 1.4×1017 years)



Chrysopoeia, the artificial production of gold, is the symbolic goal of alchemists. Alchemists often understood this as a metaphor for a mystical, philosophical, psychological, medical, or religious transformation. Despite this, some alchemists interpreted this literally, and attempted to physically transmute base metals into gold. Such transmutation is possible in particle accelerators or nuclear reactors, although the production cost is currently many times the market price of gold. Since there is only one stable gold isotope, 197Au, nuclear reactions must create this isotope in order to produce usable gold.

Gold synthesis in an accelerator


Gold synthesis in a particle accelerator is possible in many ways. The Spallation Neutron Source has a liquid mercury target which will be transmuted into gold, platinum, and iridium, which are lower in atomic number than mercury

Gold synthesis in a nuclear reactor


Gold was synthesized from mercury by neutron bombardment in 1941, but the isotopes of gold produced were all radioactive. In 1924, a Japanese physicist, Hantaro Nagaoka, accomplished the same feat.
Gold can currently be manufactured in a nuclear reactor by irradiation either of platinum or mercury.
Only the mercury isotope 196Hg, which occurs with a frequency of 0.15% in natural mercury, can be converted to gold by slow neutron capture, and following electron capture, decay into gold’s only stable isotope, 197Au. When other mercury isotopes are irradiated with slow neutrons, they also undergo neutron capture, but either convert into each other or beta decay into the thallium isotopes 203Tl and 205Tl.
Using fast neutrons, the mercury isotope 198Hg, which composes 9.97% of natural mercury, can be converted by splitting off a neutron and becoming 197Hg, which then disintegrates to stable gold. This reaction, however, possesses a smaller activation cross-section and is feasible only with un-moderated reactors.
It is also possible to eject several neutrons with very high energy into the other mercury isotopes in order to form 197Hg. However such high-energy neutrons can be produced only by particle accelerators.[clarification needed].
In 1980, Glenn Seaborg transmuted several thousand atoms of bismuth into gold at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. His experimental technique, using nuclear physics, was able to remove protons and neutrons from the bismuth atoms. Seaborg’s technique would have been far too expensive to enable the routine manufacture of gold, however.
Neutron total cross section measurements of gold and tantalum at the nELBE photoneutron source

Gold-Producing Bacteria Turn Toxic Ions Into Precious Metal, Scientists Say

Now for one they didn’t seem to see but might be done by splicing genes. Biotechnology/bioengineering and using the bacteria from above and splicing it into the reactor bacteria or fungus they have found growing in nuclear reactors. I think they should be looking at this as a possible way to utilize reactor technology and biotechnology to produce gold in reactors. It might be worth looking into. The big question about it to me is can one of the bacteria be bioengineered to capture gold made in nuclear reactors heavy water?
The philosopher’s stone

About laborious

Interests in science, art, math, theory, game engines, future technology.
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