Chinese scientists have managed to turn cheap copper metal into a new metal almost identical in composition to gold. The discovery was made possible by a team of scientists from the Institute of Chemical Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Liaoning, who succeeded to find a “gold replacement.” Their findings and achievements are published in the journal of “Science Advances”.

This would be a huge accomplishment for the world to turn an abundant metal like copper into a precious metal like gold. The team of Chinese researchers bombarded hot electronically charged argon gas with copper atoms off a target metal sheet.

When the atoms cooled down and condensed, a thin layer of “sand” began to appear on the surface of a collecting device. The tiny grains of sand behaved in a way very similar to gold. Scientists found that each grain of sand was only a few nanometers in diameter — around 1/1000th the size of a bacterium.

During the process, the copper nano particles that made up the sandy substance, acted in the same way as a precious metal like gold and silver would behave.

In a statement, the lead author Sun Jian said, “The copper nano particles achieved catalytic performance extremely similar to that of gold or silver… The results proved that after processing, metal copper can transform from ‘chicken’ to ‘phoenix.”

However, this new material created in the Chinese labs is still essentially copper. It will be beneficial to the world of manufacturing, as the new metal has been found to resist high temperatures, oxidization and erosion.

Professor Sun Jian described his team’s findings as “Like a warrior with golden armor in a battlefield, capable of withstanding any enemy assault.”

As gold is a scarce resource, the invention could prove to be a great replacement for gold in various industries.