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Coming to a jeweler near you: Blue gold?

Posting in Energy

You could soon have this in blue. Or red. Or green.

All that glitters is not yellow in tone.

Scientists at Southampton University in the UK have figured out a new way to change the color of gold, making it "red or green or a multitude of other hues" according to professor Nikolay Zheludev, the school's head of nanophotonics and metamaterials, as quoted by the BBC.

Zheludev and his team perform this bit of optical alchemy "by embossing tiny raised or indented patterns on the metal's surface which alters the way it absorbs or reflects light," he says.

The practice works with other metals too, including silver and aluminum.

There are alternatives ways to change the color of these materials, but Southampton's 100-nanometer etchings auger industrial scale production, rather than the limited output of existing techniques, Zheludev implies in the journal Optics Express.

LOOK MA, NO THIN FILMS!

"It has the advantage of maintaining the integrity of metal surface and is well suited to high-throughput fabrication via techniques such as nano-imprint," he writes, noting that he does not use chemical modification, thin films or diffraction.

Southampton has applied for a patent and hopes to commercialize the practice with the jewelry industry.

Talk about transformative -  it seems Zheludev is on the brink of redefining bling, and giving a whole new meaning to the phrase "I've got the blues" (assuming blue is within his reach).

And just think how this could pick up a lackluster global economy, as the wealthy rush out to purchase their gold watches and dinnerware in different shades. One for each day of the week perhaps? It's a golden opportunity.

Photo: Madison Ave Gifts (if you can't afford the 4 dinner plates for $372, you could just settle for a quartet of salad plates for $336 or soup bowls for $348).

More material samples, on SmartPlanet:

— By on October 24, 2012, 7:29 PM PST

Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure