Black Gold

Stanford chemists have a eureka moment.

March 2024

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Illustration of the chemical structure of the gold-halide perovskite

Illustration: Kurt Lindquist/Nature Chemistry

Like beaker-spinning Rumpelstiltskins, Stanford chemists have discovered an easy, seemingly magical way to create gold—in this case, the rare Au2+, so named for its loss of two negatively charged electrons.

“No one has been able to stabilize Au2+,” says Hemamala Karunadasa, an associate professor of chemistry and the study’s senior author; Kurt Lindquist, PhD ’22, was lead author. But when researchers added vitamin C to a solution of water, cesium chloride, Au3+ chloride, and hydrochloric acid, the greenish-black crystalline material emerged.

“We were very surprised when [the gold] just fell out of solution at room temperature in our lab,” says Karunadasa. “It’s super simple. You just throw things into solution, and it will crash out.”

The unique magnetic properties of Au2+ hold promise for advances in microelectronics, she says. “Right now, the [Au2+] is so new we are just trying to figure out what it can do. It will be really cool to see what happens.”

Tracie White is a senior writer at Stanford. Email her at

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