2010 saw the biggest-ever use of gold in electronics, with 327 tonnes of the precious metal being used, according to the World Gold Council.
In its latest quarterly report, published on Thursday, the council also said the first quarter of this year had seen a very slight year-on-year rise of one percent in the electronics industry's demand for gold, up to 80 tonnes. However, because gold has appreciated significantly in value over the past year, that slight boost in demand meant a 25 percent rise in the amount of money spent on gold for electronics purposes, going up to $5.1bn (£3.2bn) in the quarter.
Even maintaining, a year later, the level of demand seen in the first quarter of 2010 was notable because that quarter's growth was driven by replenishing the inventory supply lines that had been wiped out by the recession. Demand in the first quarter of 2011, on the other hand, was driven by improving consumer sentiment and recovering economies, the council said.
However, the council added, "fabrication demand in several industrialised markets has been tempered by slower-than-anticipated growth and a curtailing of consumer spending". The tsunami hit Japanese demand, but manufacturers in China, Taiwan and East Asia sought increasing amounts of gold to help power their netbooks, notebooks, tablets and smartphones.
In electronics, gold is mostly used in wire bonding, connecting integrated circuits to printed circuit boards. It is also used in electroplating.