Gold is one of the most valuable metals on earth, primarily used in making jewelry. Right after that, the most gold usage rate is in electronic devices. Gold Inside Electronics becomes a wonder for many of the tech enthusiastic, but wait it is not a matter of treasure hunt.
This is not a surprise though. Due to some material properties of gold, it is the best and sometimes the only choice for making electrical components efficiently, despite the increase in price. In this article, we’re going to see why gold is used in electronics, and which devices they’re being used frequently.
Table of Contents
Why Gold is Used in Electronics
As mentioned earlier, there are certain properties that make gold the best choice for electrical equipment. These are the reasons why.
Unlike copper, iron or zinc that is used in electric devices, gold doesn’t react with the environment in normal conditions. It doesn’t react with oxygen too, making it a non-corrosive and durable material. Gold retains its properties for a long time without altering.
- Highly conductive
In addition to being non-reactive, gold is a great conductor of heat and electricity with very little resistance. For this reason, they can be used in almost any electrical connection if possible.
- Easy to shape
Though gold is a strong metal, it can be transformed into various complex shapes fairly easily, by melting or hammering it into sheets with low widths. This soft property also makes it easy to create thin wires from gold.
- Easy to create alloys or layers
As an expensive material, gold can’t be used at a large amount for electronics due to economic feasibility. But gold can be made into various alloys with many other metals such as copper, nickel, silver, etc. Equipment made of metals can also be gold-plated. As an added benefit, the durability of the material increases several times.
For these general reasons, gold is used in many electronic devices as conductors and circuit modeling.
Uses of Gold inside Electronics
As stated earlier, there are plentiful reasons as to why gold is used on electronic equipment. Most of the modern electronic devices contain a small portion of gold inside, particularly those which contain pins, connectors and circuit boards, switches and also all the data transfer units.
A desktop computer contains comparatively more gold than other machines. We can also find gold in its processors, mobile phones, televisions of your home, sim cards, GPS units, tabs, radios, cameras, and many more household devices.
How Much Gold is used in a Computer?
Among other electrical machines, desktop computers contain one of the largest amounts of gold in comparison. Almost all the parts of a computer where data transfer occurs, like the motherboards, the processors, the connectors and slots like PCI slots, PCBs, various pins, and memory sticks of a computer contain small amounts of gold. Due to the high connectivity, the connection ports and circuit boards in almost all equipment use gold-plating or gold alloys.
Although the amount of gold per computer is very low, almost 1/10th of a gram of pure gold can be salvaged per a laptop computer, and 1/5th of gold from a desktop computer, still if we can collect old PC parts and circuit-boards and accumulate, the number can go relatively high. Old parts can be found in online marketplaces and also in electrical garbage units. Recovering gold from computer parts is becoming a popular method to earn some extra bucks.
How Much Gold is in a Processor?
Computer processors are the most work-heavy equipment which is also very expensive. You will never want to compromise to choose the right processor for your PC with the best quality. The reason is, they are continuously processing large amounts of data and feeding them in real-time, and because they contain the most amount of gold amongst the other parts.
Gold is used in processors to keep the data transfer rate intact for a long time and for better connectivity than other materials. The connector side of a processor contains lots of little pins that are attached to the motherboard. These pins are gold-plated. The expensive ceramic-built processors contain even more amount of gold.
How Much Gold is in a Motherboard?
After the processor, the motherboard also contains considerably large amounts of gold inside the electronics component. These are generally located in the printed circuit boards, the connector fingers, pins and the ports of a motherboard. The reason is the same, high connectivity. Normally 12K gold can be found as layers on the circuit board fingers.
How Much Gold is in a TV?
Televisions contain a very tiny amount of gold. The older cathode ray tube (CRT) televisions contained more amount of gold than the modern plasma or LCD televisions, and thus were more expensive to buy. Gold can be found inside the connectors of CRT televisions and inside the tuner of LCD televisions or LCD and LED monitors. In addition to this, both of them contain gold in their circuit boards. Silver can also be found inside these.
How Much Gold is in a Cell Phone?
Like the others, cell phones also contain circuit boards. We can find some more gold in the speaker setup of mobile phones. U.S. Geological Survey estimates that each cell phone can contain up to 0.034 grams of gold. The yield per volume is considerably high for mobile phones.
Gold in Sim Card
Sim card is an important part of the cell phone signaling system. The working area of the sim card is a silicon-made chip which is gold plated for connectivity and long term usage. The gold-plated area is 0.8 to 1.1 sq.cm. There is no exact figure as to how much gold is in a sim card because different cards have different amounts, but the approximation is 0.08 grams per pound. To acquire 1 gram of pure gold, we need to recycle at least a thousand sim cards.
Method and Hazards of Extraction
Extracting gold from any electrical component as an example of a damaged motherboard is a relatively easy process. As gold doesn’t react to environments and doesn’t even react to acids, we can use nitric acid diluted by water to eliminate all spare materials and collect the leftover gold. We can also use hydrogen peroxide with hydrochloric acid. After separating the gold-rich components, put them in a beaker and drown them with the solution for about 2 weeks, the result should come off by then.
The problem with this method is, the nitric acid solution can be very harmful if direct contact to skin occurs, so sufficient safety measures are needed to do this safely. And there’s a chance of toxic gas release as we’re burning out plastics and creating fumes, this is harmful to the environment. There are more sophisticated methods of extracting gold but those are suitable for mass-production.
Every year, thousands of tons of gold and other valuable metals are used in building electrical household components. It is important to know why and how much gold is used in electronics. Extracting these safely can be a very good idea to recover more usable metals as the world is expected to see rising demand for valuable metals that are being used up fast. Hopefully, Gold Inside Electronics is no longer a mystery for you anymore.