The scientist is Adrian Fuchs, and he found out how gold nanoparticles can be dispersed into polymers or plastics, to make them more durable.
They could also be used in intensifying the colors of dyes: “Paint is essentially a plastic so when gold nanoparticles are added it makes colours more intense across the whole visible spectrum. The paint would also be more durable when exposed to a harsh environment.”
The interesting part for us is that “if you put gold nanoparticles with titanium dioxide using a plastic mould, you can make a very efficient catalyst to purify water; the titania absorbs the light and converts it into electricity which is then passed into the conductive gold.”
Today’s Graetzel (dye-sensitized solar cells) are very inefficient but cheap. Making better conducting layers for them would account for an increase in efficiency, which more than expected. You may think that if gold is involved in this process it may bring the prices up from where they were, but Fuchs only studies a gold nanoparticles approach, so I think high prices are out of the question here.
Other uses to gold nanoparticles besides using them in dye-sensitized solar cells could be faster computers, tougher shoe soles, lighter and cheaper TV sets, water purification and cancer-fighting drugs.