Monday February 19, 2018

Bronze Age gold workers in Ireland made artifacts from imported material, says a study

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London: Archaeologists have found evidence of an ancient gold trade route, dating to the early Bronze Age (2500 BC), between the southwest of Britain and Ireland.

Using a new technique to measure the chemical composition of some of the earliest gold artifacts in Ireland, the researchers determined that the objects were actually made from gold imported from Cornwall in Britain.

“This is an unexpected and particularly interesting result as it suggests that Bronze Age gold workers in Ireland were making artifacts out of material sourced from outside of the country, despite the existence of a number of easily-accessible and rich gold deposits found locally,” said lead author Chris Standish from University of Southampton in Britain.

“It is unlikely that knowledge of how to extract gold did not exist in Ireland, as we see large scale exploitation of other metals. It is more probable that an ‘exotic’ origin was cherished as a key property of gold and was an important reason behind why it was imported for production,” Standish said.

The researchers used an advanced technique called laser ablation mass spectrometry to sample gold from 50 early Bronze Age artifacts in the collections of the National Museum of Ireland, such as basket ornaments, discs and lunula (necklaces).

They measured isotopes of lead in tiny fragments and made a comparison with the composition of gold deposits found in a variety of locations.

After further analysis, the archaeologists concluded that the gold in the objects most likely originates from Cornwall, rather than Ireland — possibly extracted and traded as part of the tin mining industry.

The study appeared in the journal Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society. (IANS)

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Your body could soon power wearable devices

The study described a small tab (1.5 centimetres long, by one centimetre wide). It delivered a maximum voltage of 124 volts, a maximum current of 10 microamps and a maximum power density of 0.22 millwatts per square centimetre.

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The tab consists of two thin layers of gold, with polydimethylsiloxane (also called PDMS — a silicon-based polymer used in contact lenses, Silly Putty and other products) sandwiched in between. Wikimedia Commons
The tab consists of two thin layers of gold, with polydimethylsiloxane (also called PDMS — a silicon-based polymer used in contact lenses, Silly Putty and other products) sandwiched in between. Wikimedia Commons

Researchers have developed a metallic tab which, when connected to a human body, is capable of generating electricity from bending a finger and other simple movements.

According to a research project led by the University at Buffalo, New York, and Institute of Semiconductors (IoP) at the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS), the tab — a triboelectric nanogenerator — can convert mechanical energy into electrical energy for electronic devices.

“The human body is an abundant source of energy. We thought: ‘Why not harness it to produce our own power?’” said lead author Qiaoqiang Gan, associate professor at the University at Buffalo.

The tab was detailed in the journal Nano Energy. Triboelectric charging occurs when certain materials become electrically charged after coming into contact with a different material. Most everyday static electricity is triboelectric.

Also Read: Scientists Use Pocket-size Device to Map Human Genetic Code

The tab consists of two thin layers of gold, with polydimethylsiloxane (also called PDMS — a silicon-based polymer used in contact lenses, Silly Putty and other products) sandwiched in between.

The tab was detailed in the journal Nano Energy. Wikimedia Commons
The tab was detailed in the journal Nano Energy. Wikimedia Commons

One layer of gold is stretched, causing it to crumple upon release and create what looks like a miniature mountain range. When that force is reapplied, for example, from a finger bending, the motion leads to friction between the gold layers and PDMS.

“This causes electrons to flow back and forth between the gold layers. The more friction, the greater the amount of power is produced,” said Yun Xu, a professor at the IoP.

The study described a small tab (1.5 centimetres long, by one centimetre wide). It delivered a maximum voltage of 124 volts, a maximum current of 10 microamps and a maximum power density of 0.22 millwatts per square centimetre.

Also Read: Mitra: An Indian Robot That Greets You With A ‘Namaste’

That is not enough to quickly charge a smartphone, but it lit 48 red LED lights simultaneously. The team is planning to use larger pieces of gold, which when stretched and folded together are expected to deliver even more electricity.

The researchers are also working on developing a portable battery to store energy produced by the tab. They envision the system serving as a power source for various wearable and self-powered electronic devices. (IANS)

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