The “world’s thinnest gold” is one million times thinner than a fingernail – and is so thin, it’s technically regarded as “two dimensional”.
The official measurement is 0.47 nanometres, made possible because the gold is made up of just two atoms sitting on top of each other.
This revolutionary material could be used to create new technology and speed up industrial processes, according to its creators at the University of Leeds.
“Gold nanoparticles are used to speed up chemical reactions,” researcher Dr Sunjie Ye told The Sun.
“This ultra-thin gold could be used in new medical devices that test for the early signs of disease or illness.
“It could also have uses in transforming industrial waste into chemicals that can be reused and in water purification.”
Genius researchers revealed how they produced the wonder material in the Advanced Sciences journal.
The gold “nanosheet” is created inside a watery solution.
They begin with chloroauric acid, which is an inorganic substance that already contains gold.
This is then reduced to its metallic form in the presence of a “confinement agent”.
That’s a term used to describe a chemical that encourages the gold to form as a sheet – just two atoms thick.
Because of the gold’s tiny dimensions, it actually appears green in water.
And thanks to its strange shape, researchers describe it as “gold nanoseaweed”.
Using an electron microscope, researchers were able to capture images of how the gold atoms formed into a highly organised lattice.
Its small size means that it’s as many as 10 times more efficient as a catalyst than currently-used gold nanoparticles.
“Gold is a highly effective catalyst,” said Professor Stephen Evans, of the University of Leeds.
“Because the nanosheets are so thin, just about every gold atom plays a part in the catalysis.
“It means the process is highly efficient.”
And Dr Sunjie Ye described the creation as a “landmark achievement”.
She added: “Not only does it open up the possibility that gold can be used more efficiently in existing technologies, it is providing a route that would allow material scientists to develop other 2D metals.