Einstein’s Theory of Relativity Applied to Gold Catalysis

Chemists strike gold with new gold catalysts. ‘A University of California, Berkeley, chemist has found a mother lode of new and unique gold-catalyzed reactions by applying Einstein’s theory of relativity to the rare and precious metal. Catalysts are metals that speed up chemical reactions, such as when the platinum in a car’s catalytic converter instantly converts polluting engine exhaust to oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and water. Dean Toste, a UC Berkeley associate professor of chemistry, was one of the first chemists to experiment with gold as a catalyst. He opened the door for others interested in gold’s versatility and in the potential to generate chemicals of interest for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry more efficiently and using less toxic precursors.’

ScienceMatters@Berkeley: Change Agent. ‘(…)The researchers are also developing catalysts based on gold. Most of us think of gold as an inert substance that’s perfect “for a wedding band,” Toste says, the fact that gold is a low oxidation-state metal makes it interesting as a catalyst, but it’s historically been very difficult to demonstrate very many useful reactions based on the element. Recently though, the Berkeley researchers have developed myriad gold complexes that work well as “open-flask” catalysts.’

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