Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gold-plated fossil solution

Date:
May 22, 2012
Source:
University of Leicester
Summary:
Scientists have found a solution to a research problem involving fossils right next door.

A 300 million year old tooth, coated in gold. The tooth is only the size of a pin head (1.5 mm). Scientifically, this tooth is known as Gondolella, because of it gondola like shape.
Credit: David Jones and Mark Purnell, University of Leicester

An international team of scientists in the University of Leicester's Department of Geology has found a solution to a research problem involving fossils right next door -- in the University's Chemistry Department.

Many objects, including fossils, can reveal a huge amount of scientific information when studied using the high power magnification of electron microscopes, but in order to study tiny fossils or microscopic details of larger fossils in this way, palaeontologists routinely coat the fossils with an ultra-thin layer of gold. This obviously changes the way the fossil looks, and so it is often necessary to remove the gold after analysis, but this is difficult and expensive and uses dangerous chemicals like cyanide.

University of Leicester chemists are developing industrial electro-plating and polishing techniques using liquid salts called 'ionic liquids' which are safe, cheap and environmentally friendly. Scientists from the two departments got together to see whether a similar process could be used on fossils. The work was supported by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

They found that ionic liquids can remove gold quickly and easily without damaging even tiny, delicate fossils. The liquids are safe to handle, can be simply disposed of and can even dissolve the gold without affecting the glue that holds the fossil specimen in place for analysis.

Professor Mark Purnell, from the Department of Geology, said: "There are many cases where collecting the evidence required for research affects fossils or other objects in ways that might be considered as somewhat destructive -- gold coating for electron microscopy falls into this category. Understandably, this creates problems for places like museums which have to balance the value of research on their collections against the risk that specimens will be affected. This approach to gold removal offers a new way of tackling this problem that is safe for both researchers and the specimens."

Professor Andy Abbott, from the Department of Chemistry, added: "This is a very nice demonstration of the use of ionic liquids for metal recovery but it is just the tip of the iceberg as we are using this technology for the recycling of a wide range of alloys and waste materials. The University of Leicester is building a strong reputation for the development of sustainable materials."

Details of the new technique have just been published in the journal Palaeontologia electronica.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Leicester. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Leicester. "Gold-plated fossil solution." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120522084516.htm>.
University of Leicester. (2012, May 22). Gold-plated fossil solution. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120522084516.htm
University of Leicester. "Gold-plated fossil solution." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120522084516.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Newsy (Apr. 20, 2014) — A 9-year-old Michigan boy was exploring a creek when he came across a 10,000-year-old tooth from a prehistoric mastodon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Couple Finds Love Letters From WWI In Attic

Couple Finds Love Letters From WWI In Attic

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) — A couple found love letters from World War I in their attic. They were able to deliver them to relatives of the writer of those letters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Erotic Art Offers Glimpse of China's 'lost' Sexual Philosophy

Erotic Art Offers Glimpse of China's 'lost' Sexual Philosophy

AFP (Apr. 16, 2014) — Explicit Chinese art works dating back centuries go on display in Hong Kong, revealing China's ancient relationship with sex. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
French Historians Fight to Save Iconic La Samaritaine Buildings

French Historians Fight to Save Iconic La Samaritaine Buildings

AFP (Apr. 15, 2014) — Parisians and local historians are fighting to save one of the French capital's iconic buildings, the La Samaritaine department store. Duration: 01:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins