Gold Nanoparticles Identified as Cause of Historic Purple Smoke

Gold Nanoparticles Identified as Cause of Historic Purple Smoke

Discovery by Alchemists in the 16th Century

Fulminating gold, a compound first discovered by 16th-century alchemists, has long intrigued scientists due to the unique purple smoke it produces upon detonation. Predominantly composed of various compounds and ammonia, fulminating gold’s explosive nature was initially observed by German alchemist Sebald Schwaertzer in 1585. The material garnered attention from notable chemists like Robert Hooke and Antoine Lavoisier in the 17th and 18th centuries, yet the exact cause of its distinctive purple smoke remained a mystery.

Solving the Age-Old Mystery

Recent research led by Simon Hall has finally solved this longstanding enigma. The study involved the creation of fulminating gold and its controlled detonation in small quantities. The resulting purple smoke was captured and analyzed under a transmission electron microscope, which revealed the presence of spherical gold nanoparticles. This finding confirms the long-held but unproven theory that gold nanoparticles are responsible for the smoke’s vivid purple color.

Future Research on Metal Fulminates

Encouraged by this breakthrough, Hall’s team is now poised to investigate other metal fulminates, including platinum, silver, lead, and mercury. The objective is to understand the nature of the clouds produced by these compounds, a question that remains unanswered in the scientific community. This continued research promises to unveil further insights into the fascinating world of metal fulminates and their unique properties. icon

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