A research team in the Chinese city of Dalian have managed to turn copper into a material that's similar to gold or silver, via selective hydrogenation reactions, as shown in footage shot on Wednesday.

The team, led by Dr. Jian Sun from the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, demonstrated that the electron structure of copper can be modified with the aid of high energy plasma, making copper display different catalytic behaviours than normal copper in selective hydrogenation reactions. This in turn gives the copper properties similar to those found in silver and gold.

"We found a special copper material that can replace the precious metals gold and silver. Figuratively speaking, copper is 'frozen' in a pure metal state," Jian said.

"If it can be promoted to large-scale application, I think this special copper would reduce the manufacturing cost of gold and silver by 80-90 percent," Jian added.

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