Gold and Gold Alloys in Electronics - World Gold Council

Overview

Gold is the material of choice in many electronic applications, especially in telecommunications, information technology and other high performance and safety critical applications. Examine your mobile phone and you will almost certainly see gold plated contacts. Take apart an old computer and there will probably be gold plated edge connectors on the circuit boards. As a result of the growth of these sectors, long term annual consumption of gold in electronics is increasing. During 2007, it was estimated that around 280 tonnes of gold found its way into electronics and electrical components. Where the voltages are small, the circuitry complex or the required reliability high, gold is usually the preferred choice.

Material Properties of Gold

The beneficial material properties of gold include outstanding resistance to corrosion, the ease with which it can be worked and high thermal and electrical conductivity. Only silver and copper are better conductors of electricity, but do not have comparable resistance to tarnishing or corrosion. In conditions under which most other metals either tarnish or corrode away, gold remains inert and extremely durable.

So where resistance to tarnish or corrosion is essential, it is therefore common to either use gold or a gold alloy, or to plate gold onto a less noble metal. For electronic applications, the resistance of gold to environmental effects is perhaps its most important property. It means that the technical performance of gold bonding wires or gold electroplating remain essentially unaltered with time.

Optimum Use of Gold

In general, the more sophisticated the equipment and the greater the need for reliability, the greater the requirement to exploit the advantages of gold as a material. This means that in telecommunications, computers, automotive electronics and defence systems where safety is critical, gold is indispensable.

gold in the electronic sector, including the development of high strength connecting wires and improved wetting solder alloys. Innovations required for information technology in the future will be highly integrated electronic devices, designed and fabricated on the nanometre scale (one billionth of a metre).

Gold will be an indispensable element for nanoscale electronic devices because it is resistant to oxidation and mechanically robust at the incredibly small dimensions defined by nanotechnology.The reliability of gold is an essential characteristic for the increasing use of electronic components in cars.

Source: World Gold Council

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