Gold plated - news story - 23 May 2012

Shinier is better

When studying tiny fossils - and tiny parts of bigger fossils - under electron microscopes, the subjects are often given a very thin coating of gold. It provides a far better image, but obviously the gold doesn't really belong on what may be an important research specimen, so it usually needs to be removed.

This removal process has been a trickier business than the application - dificult, expensive and involving some dangerous chemicals. Until now, as a new gold-removal technique has been developed. A dunk in 'ionic liquids', some sort of salt solution, will get rid of the sheen without damaging the fossil or any restorative work that's been done on it. Palaeontologists and chemists working together in a cross-disciplinary team. Awww. You can read more by clicking here.