Project AuTEK is a highly successfully joint venture formed between Mintek, a science council based in Randburg South Africa, and the three major South African gold mining houses – Anglogold Ashanti, Gold Fields and Harmony Gold Mining Company Ltd. The main focus is to research and develop novel industrial applications for gold. Project AuTEK, housed at Mintek, is headed up by Dr. Elma van der Lingen and involves research in the fields of catalysis, nanotechnology and biomedical science.
For thousands of years, gold has been sought after for its beauty and acknowledged as a symbol of wealth. The traditional perception of gold is of jewellery, bars and coins – yet it has certain distinctive and unique properties, which make gold highly valuable in scientific research.
Its great nobility, malleability and distinctive electronic structure confer extraordinary qualities to nano-particles and advanced materials. Gold nanoparticles deposited on metal oxides, result in catalysts which are active at low temperatures and in humid conditions. The exceptional biocompatibility of gold offers great scope for various new biomedical applications for the metal.