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History, Mechanics, And Safety Concerns Of Gold Potassium Cyanide

1464 words - 6 pages

From King Midas’ greed to the treasure of the Incas, gold is easily the most widely treasured metal known throughout history. Nearly every culture or group has placed heavy inherent value on it and includes it in their lore. Even the name for gold was graciously thought out and applied. It is derived from the word “geolo”, the Old English word for “yellow”. The periodic symbol for gold, Au, is from the Latin word aurum, “glowing dawn” . Its uses are both, immeasurable and prehistoric. However, its use in the electrodeposition process, the main discussion in this paper, has only been dated back to roughly 1850. Unlike gold, potassium was only acknowledged as an element in the early 1800’s. Potassium Cyanide has a grim history of murder and suicide. Most research on the compound is devoted to the effects it has on humans. Potassium Cyanide, in the industrial sense, is used as a reducing agent, in chemical analysis, metallurgy, and in the process of gold extraction. Uses of Potassium Cyanide also extend into pharmacy and photography .
In the early 1800’s, Italian chemist Luigi Brugnatelli invented the process of electroplating . He used an invention called the Voltaic Pile (originally discovered by Allessandro Volta). The voltaic pile is a machine that provides a steady stream of electricity, the first device of its kind. Brugnatelli described what he did as taking an object and applying electricity to it while taking on the visual characteristics of a specified metal. Potassium Cyanide wasn’t included in this process until four decades later. John Wright is accredited with that processional addition. His process was the first to include an electric current which passed through a tank of water. The official patent for electroplating was granted to the Henry and George Elkington; they bought Wright’s patent. The ownership of the patent made the Elkingtons the monopolistic entrepreneurs of cheap jewelry. In modern times, the past two decades have seen an enormous growth in the advancement of the electrodeposition process. This drive was initiated by the growth of the electronics industry. It is notable that gold has many properties which make it an ideal candidate for electrical use. Gold is arguably one of the best conductors of all metals, even at a moderate temperature. It is extremely resilient and withstands long periods of use without signs of deterioration. Gold is also unlikely to have adverse reactions which can be harmful rather than productive. Finally, gold is perfect for wire bonding. The utility of gold off sets the costliness of the metal in comparison to other materials .
It is important to note that electroplating and electrodeposition are often used interchangeably. The entire process produces a gold or silver (or similarly metallic material) coating onto the surface of an object, like costume jewelry. This is done by negatively charging the chosen object and submersing it in a solution of salt created from the desired metal. The...

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