Pyrite, iron disulfide, is known as fool’s gold or fool’s gold because many were the ones who mistook it for real gold .
But what if the pyrite actually contained gold but until now it had gone unnoticed because we did not have the necessary instrument to see it? What if we could extract it?
Using an atomic probe
Pyrite glows like a luster even more golden than real gold. Now, a new study published in the journal Geology by Curtin University in collaboration with the University of Western Australia and the China University of Geosciences, actually suggests that small amounts of gold can be trapped within pyrite .
This new type of "invisible" gold has not been previously recognized and is only observable using a scientific instrument called an atomic probe .
As lead researcher Denis Fougerouse of the Curtin School of Planetary and Earth Sciences explains:
Previously, gold miners had been able to find gold in pyrite either as nanoparticles or as an alloy of gold and pyrite, but what we have discovered is that gold can also lodge in nanoscale crystal defects, representing a new type. of ‘invisible’ gold. The more deformed the glass is, the more gold is locked into defects. Gold is housed in nanoscale defects called dislocations, one hundred thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair, so a special technique called atomic probe tomography is needed to look at it.
Fougerouse said the team also explored gold mining methods and possible ways to obtain trapped gold with fewer adverse impacts on the environment:
We investigated an extraction process called selective leaching, using a fluid to selectively dissolve the gold from pyrite. Dislocations not only trap the gold, but also behave like fluid pathways that allow the gold to be "leached" without affecting all of the pyrite.