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Q & A: Conductivity of gold and applications?

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Most recent answer: 02/24/2010
Q:
thank you for telling me that gold is not really magnetic but how conductive is gold in comparison to say copper i know it is insanely more expensive to use gold wiring so are there any practical applications
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- ryan (age 13)
richmond VA US
A:
Silver, copper and gold win the gold, silver and bronze medals in the Olympic championships of electrical conductivity.  Actually there is not that much difference among them. On the other hand, copper, silver and gold win the Olympic championships for low cost.   Copper wins big!
Use gold in electrical applications as long as it is used in moderation. Some micro chips use gold wires for connections. Of the many qualities of gold,  electrical conductivity for one,  it is highly resistance to oxidation and corrosion.  Therefore many electrical contact surfaces are plated with a thin, very thin, coating of gold.  The gold plating prevents the buildup of oxide layers that have a high resistance.  A gold plated contact has a much longer lifetime than an ordinary copper contact when exposed from time to time to the atmosphere.

See:     for gory details.

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(published on 02/24/2010)

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