It seems like every other day we read about some far-out, new technology that makes us scratch our heads and say, "What the heck?" In this series, we'll take a look at all types of crazy new gadgets, apps and other technologies -- and the entrepreneurs dreaming them up.
Don't call it a fashion statement.
Engineers are working on a way to combine tiny, tiny pieces of gold, called nanoparticles, with an elastic polymer to create a stretchable, conductive material. Yes, it's shiny and playfully stretchy, but the intention is to improve your health.
The idea -- in language even non-geeks can comprehend -- is that most metal compounds lose their ability to conduct electricity when stretched out. But when gold particles are mixed with elastic polymers, it "self-organizes" into chains, making the material conducive when expanded or contracted, according to a report in Wired.
The gold-polyurethane material could someday be used in the form of implantable electrodes in the brain for treating movement disorders or in the heart to help regulate cardiac activity.
"It looks like elastic gold," Nicholas Kotov, a chemical engineer at the University of Michigan, told Wired. "But we can stretch it just like a rubber band."
Gold has had other uses in technology for years but the application seems pretty cool. A material that's stretchy and has the ability to transport electrons no matter its state can conceivably have a number of applications throughout medicine and beyond -- as long as the materials won't be rejected and can mold to the various surfaces and movements of the body.
Just don't try to pawn off your gold-infused electrodes or pacemakers for a quick buck. We don't think Les Gold from Hardcore Pawn would be impressed.