Oxider og chalcogeniderRediger


Sølv og guld har relativt lav kemisk affinitet for ilt, lavere end kobber, og der forventes derfor at sølvoxider termisk set er relativt ustabile. Opløselige sølv(I)salte udfælder mørkbrun sølv(I)oxid, Ag2O, ved tilføjelse af alkali. Sølv(I)oxid reduceres meget nemt til metallisk sølv og nedbrydes til sølv og ilt ved over 160 °C.[1] Denne og andre sølv(I)-forbindelser kan oxideres af det stærke oxidationsmiddel peroxodisulfat til sort AgO, en blandet sølv(I,III)oxid med formlen AgIAgIIIO2. Der kendes også til andre blandede oxider med sølv i ikke-integrerede oxidationstrin: Ag2O3 og Ag3O4, såvel som Ag3O, der fungerer som en metallisk leder.[1]

Sølv(I)sulfid, Ag2S, kan nemt dannes fra sine grundstoffer og er årsag til de sorte pletter der ses på visse ældre sølvobjekter. Det kan også dannes fra hydrogensulfids reaktion med sølvmetal eller vandige Ag+-ioner. Der findes mange ikke-støkiometriske selenider og tellurider; og i særdeleshed AgTe~3 er en superleder ved lave temperaturer.[1]


  Hovedartikel: Silver halide.
Fil:Common Silver Halide Precipitates.jpg
The three common silver halide precipitates: from left to right, silver iodide, silver bromide, and silver chloride.

The only known dihalide of silver is the difluoride, AgF2, which can be obtained from the elements under heat. A strong yet thermally stable and therefore safe fluorinating agent, silver(II) fluoride is often used to synthesize hydrofluorocarbons.[2]

In stark contrast to this, all four silver(I) halides are known. The fluoride, chloride, and bromide have the sodium chloride structure, but the iodide has three known stable forms at different temperatures; that at room temperature is the cubic zinc blende structure. They can all be obtained by the direct reaction of their respective elements.[2] As the halogen group is descended, the silver halide gains more and more covalent character, solubility decreases, and the color changes from the white chloride to the yellow iodide as the energy required for ligand-metal charge transfer (XAg+ → XAg) decreases.[2] The fluoride is anomalous, as the fluoride ion is so small that it has a considerable solvation energy and hence is highly water-soluble and forms di- and tetrahydrates.[2] The other three silver halides are highly insoluble in aqueous solutions and are very commonly used in gravimetric analytical methods.[3] All four are photosensitive (though the monofluoride is so only to ultraviolet light), especially the bromide and iodide which photodecompose to silver metal, and thus were used in traditional photography.[2] The reaction involved is:[4]

X + → X + e (excitation of the halide ion, which gives up its extra electron into the conduction band)
Ag+ + e → Ag (liberation of a silver ion, which gains an electron to become a silver atom)

The process is not reversible because the silver atom liberated is typically found at a crystal defect or an impurity site, so that the electron's energy is lowered enough that it is "trapped".[4]

Other inorganic compoundsRediger

Silver crystals forming on a copper surface in a silver nitrate solution
Crystals of silver nitrate

White silver nitrate, AgNO3, is a versatile precursor to many other silver compounds, especially the halides, and is much less sensitive to light. It was once called lunar caustic because silver was called luna by the ancient alchemists, who believed that silver was associated with the moon.[5] It is often used for gravimetric analysis, exploiting the insolubility of the heavier silver halides which it is a common precursor to.[3] Silver nitrate is used in many ways in organic synthesis, e.g. for deprotection and oxidations. Ag+ binds alkenes reversibly, and silver nitrate has been used to separate mixtures of alkenes by selective absorption. The resulting adduct can be decomposed with ammonia to release the free alkene.[6]

Yellow silver carbonate, Ag2CO3 can be easily prepared by reacting aqueous solutions of sodium carbonate with a deficiency of silver nitrate.[7] Its principal use is for the production of silver powder for use in microelectronics. It is reduced with formaldehyde, producing silver free of alkali metals:[8]

Ag2CO3 + CH2O → 2 Ag + 2 CO2 + H2

Silver carbonate is also used as a reagent in organic synthesis such as the Koenigs-Knorr reaction. In the Fétizon oxidation, silver carbonate on celite acts as an oxidising agent to form lactones from diols. It is also employed to convert alkyl bromides into alcohols.[7]

Silver fulminate, AgCNO, a powerful, touch-sensitive explosive used in percussion caps, is made by reaction of silver metal with nitric acid in the presence of ethanol. Other dangerously explosive silver compounds are silver azide, AgN3, formed by reaction of silver nitrate with sodium azide,[9] and silver acetylide, Ag2C2, formed when silver reacts with acetylene gas in ammonia solution.[10] In its most characteristic reaction, silver azide decomposes explosively, releasing nitrogen gas: given the photosensitivity of silver salts, this behaviour may be induced by shining a light on its crystals.[10]

2 AgN3 (s) → 3 N2 (g) + 2 Ag (s)

Coordination compoundsRediger

Structure of the diamminesilver(I) complex, [Ag(NH3)2]+

Silver complexes tend to be similar to those of its lighter homologue copper. Silver(III) complexes tend to be rare and very easily reduced to the more stable lower oxidation states, though they are slightly more stable than those of copper(III). For instance, the square planar periodate [Ag(IO5OH)2]5− and tellurate [Ag{TeO4(OH)2}2]5− complexes may be prepared by oxidising silver(I) with alkaline peroxodisulfate. The yellow diamagnetic [AgF4] is much less stable, fuming in moist air and reacting with glass.[11]

Silver(II) complexes are more common. Like the valence isoelectronic copper(II) complexes, they are usually square planar and paramagnetic, which is increased by the greater field splitting for 4d electrons than for 3d electrons. Aqueous Ag2+, produced by oxidation of Ag+ by ozone, is a very strong oxidising agent, even in acidic solutions: it is stabilized in phosphoric acid due to complex formation. Peroxodisulfate oxidation is generally necessary to give the more stable complexes with heterocyclic amines, such as [Ag(py)4]2+ and [Ag(bipy)2]2+: these are stable provided the counterion cannot reduce the silver back to the +1 oxidation state. [AgF4]2− is also known in its violet barium salt, as are some silver(II) complexes with N- or O-donor ligands such as pyridine carboxylates.[12]

By far the most important oxidation state for silver in complexes is +1. The Ag+ cation is diamagnetic, like its homologues Cu+ and Au+, as all three have closed-shell electron configurations with no unpaired electrons: its complexes are colourless provided the ligands are not too easily polarized such as I. Ag+ forms salts with most anions, but it is reluctant to coordinate to oxygen and thus most of these salts are insoluble in water: the exceptions are the nitrate, perchlorate, and fluoride. The tetracoordinate tetrahedral aqueous ion [Ag(H2O)4]+ is known, but the characteristic geometry for the Ag+ cation is 2-coordinate linear. For example, silver chloride dissolves readily in excess aqueous ammonia to form [Ag(NH3)2]+; silver salts are dissolved in photography due to the formation of the thiosulfate complex [Ag(S2O3)2]3−; and cyanide extraction for silver (and gold) works by the formation of the complex [Ag(CN)2]. Silver cyanide forms the linear polymer {Ag–C≡N→Ag–C≡N→}; silver thiocyanate has a similar structure, but forms a zigzag instead because of the sp3-hybridized sulfur atom. Chelating ligands are unable to form linear complexes and thus silver(I) complexes with them tend to form polymers; a few exceptions exist, such as the near-tetrahedral diphosphine and diarsine complexes [Ag(L–L)2]+.[13]


  Hovedartikel: Organosilver chemistry.

Under standard conditions, silver does not form simple carbonyls, due to the weakness of the Ag–C bond. A few are known at very low temperatures around 6–15 K, such as the green, planar paramagnetic Ag(CO)3, which dimerizes at 25–30 K, probably by forming Ag–Ag bonds. Additionally, the silver carbonyl [Ag(CO)] [B(OTeF5)4] is known. Polymeric AgLX complexes with alkenes and alkynes are known, but their bonds are thermodynamically weaker than even those of the platinum complexes (though they are formed more readily than those of the analogous gold complexes): they are also quite unsymmetrical, showing the weak π bonding in group 11. Ag–C σ bonds may also be formed by silver(I), like copper(I) and gold(I), but the simple alkyls and aryls of silver(I) are even less stable than those of copper(I) (which tend to explode under ambient conditions). For example, poor thermal stability is reflected in the relative decomposition temperatures of AgMe (−50 °C) and CuMe (−15 °C) as well as those of PhAg (74 °C) and PhCu (100 °C).[14]

The C–Ag bond is stabilized by perfluoroalkyl ligands, for example in AgCF(CF3)2.[15] Alkenylsilver compounds are also more stable than their alkylsilver counterparts.[16] Silver-NHC complexes are easily prepared, and are commonly used to prepare other NHC complexes by displacing labile ligands. For example, the reaction of the bis(NHC)silver(I) complex with bis(acetonitrile)palladium dichloride or chlorido(dimethyl sulfide)gold(I):[17]



Different colors of silver–copper–gold alloys

Silver forms alloys with most other elements on the periodic table. The elements from groups 1–3, except for hydrogen, lithium, and beryllium, are very miscible with silver in the condensed phase and form intermetallic compounds; those from groups 4–9 are only poorly miscible; the elements in groups 10–14 (except boron and carbon) have very complex Ag–M phase diagrams and form the most commercially important alloys; and the remaining elements on the periodic table have no consistency in their Ag–M phase diagrams. By far the most important such alloys are those with copper: most silver used for coinage and jewellery is in reality a silver–copper alloy, and the eutectic mixture is used in vacuum brazing. The two metals are completely miscible as liquids but not as solids; their importance in industry comes from the fact that their properties tend to be suitable over a wide range of variation in silver and copper concentration, although most useful alloys tend to be richer in silver than the eutectic mixture (71.9% silver and 28.1% copper by weight, and 60.1% silver and 28.1% copper by atom).[18]

Most other binary alloys are of little use: for example, silver–gold alloys are too soft and silver–cadmium alloys too toxic. Ternary alloys have much greater importance: dental amalgams are usually silver–tin–mercury alloys, silver–copper–gold alloys are very important in jewellery (usually on the gold-rich side) and have a vast range of hardnesses and colours, silver–copper–zinc alloys are useful as low-melting brazing alloys, and silver–cadmium–indium (involving three adjacent elements on the periodic table) is useful in nuclear reactors because of its high thermal neutron capture cross-section, good conduction of heat, mechanical stability, and resistance to corrosion in hot water.[18]


The word "silver" appears in Old English in various spellings, such as seolfor and siolfor. It is cognate with Old High German silabar; Gothic silubr; or Old Norse silfr, all ultimately deriving from Proto-Germanic *silubra. The Balto-Slavic words for silver are rather similar to the Germanic ones (e.g. Russian серебро [serebró], Polish srebro, Lithuanian sidãbras), as is the Celtiberian form silabur. They may have a common Indo-European origin, although their morphology rather suggest a non-Indo-European Wanderwort.[19][20] Some scholars have thus proposed a Paleo-Hispanic origin, pointing to the Basque form zilharr as an evidence.[21]

The chemical symbol Ag is from the Latin word for "silver", argentum (compare Ancient Greek ἄργυρος, árgyros), from the Proto-Indo-European root *h₂erǵ- (formerly reconstructed as *arǵ-), meaning "white" or "shining". This was the usual Proto-Indo-European word for the metal, whose reflexes are missing in Germanic and Balto-Slavic.[20]


Silver plate from the 4th century

Silver was one of the seven metals of antiquity that were known to prehistoric humans and whose discovery is thus lost to history.[22] In particular, the three metals of group 11, copper, silver, and gold, occur in the elemental form in nature and were probably used as the first primitive forms of money as opposed to simple bartering.[23] However, unlike copper, silver did not lead to the growth of metallurgy on account of its low structural strength, and was more often used ornamentally or as money.[24] Since silver is more reactive than gold, supplies of native silver were much more limited than those of gold.[23] For example, silver was more expensive than gold in Egypt until around the fifteenth century BC:[25] the Egyptians are thought to have separated gold from silver by heating the metals with salt, and then reducing the silver chloride produced to the metal.[26]

The situation changed with the discovery of cupellation, a technique that allowed silver metal to be extracted from its ores. While slag heaps found in Asia Minor and on the islands of the Aegean Sea indicate that silver was being separated from lead as early as the 4th millennium BC,[27] and one of the earliest silver extraction centres in Europe was Sardinia in the early Chalcolithic period,[28] these techniques did not spread widely until later, when it spread throughout the region and beyond.[25] The origins of silver production in India, China, and Japan were almost certainly equally ancient, but are not well-documented due to their great age.[26]

Silver mining and processing in Kutná Hora, Bohemia, 1490s

When the Phoenicians first came to what is now Spain, they obtained so much silver that they could not fit it all on their ships, and as a result used silver to weight their anchors instead of lead.[25] By the time of the Greek and Roman civilizations, silver coins were a staple of the economy:[23] the Greeks were already extracting silver from galena by the 7th century BC,[25] and the rise of Athens was partly made possible by the nearby silver mines at Laurium, from which they extracted about 30 tonnes a year from 600 to 300 BC.[29] The stability of the Roman currency relied to a high degree on the supply of silver bullion, mostly from Spain, which Roman miners produced on a scale unparalleled before the discovery of the New World. Reaching a peak production of 200 tonnes per year, an estimated silver stock of 10000 tonnes circulated in the Roman economy in the middle of the second century AD, five to ten times larger than the combined amount of silver available to medieval Europe and the Abbasid Caliphate around AD 800.[30][31] The Romans also recorded the extraction of silver in central and northern Europe in the same time period. This production came to a nearly complete halt with the fall of the Roman Empire, not to resume until the time of Charlemagne: by then, tens of thousands of tonnes of silver had already been extracted.[26]

Central Europe became the centre of silver production during the Middle Ages, as the Mediterranean deposits exploited by the ancient civilisations had been exhausted. Silver mines were opened in Bohemia, Saxony, Erzgebirge, Alsace, the Lahn region, Siegerland, Silesia, Hungary, Norway, Steiermark, Salzburg, and the southern Black Forest. Most of these ores were quite rich in silver and could simply be separated by hand from the remaining rock and then smelted; some deposits of native silver were also encountered. Many of these mines were soon exhausted, but a few of them remained active until the Industrial Revolution, before which the world production of silver was around a meagre 50 tonnes per year.[26] In the Americas, high temperature silver-lead cupellation technology was developed by pre-Inca civilizations as early as AD 60–120; silver deposits in India, China, Japan, and pre-Columbian America continued to be mined during this time.[26][32]

With the discovery of America and the plundering of silver by the Spanish conquistadors, Central and South America became the dominant producers of silver until around the beginning of the 18th century, particularly Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina:[26] the last of these countries later took its name from that of the metal that composed so much of its mineral wealth.[29] The silver trade gave way to a global network of exchange. As one historian put it, silver "went round the world and made the world go round."[33] Much of this silver ended up in the hands of the Chinese. A Portuguese merchant in 1621 noted that silver "wanders throughout all the world... before flocking to China, where it remains as if at its natural center."[34] Still, much of it went to Spain, allowing Spanish rulers to pursue military and political ambitions in both Europe and the Americas. "New World mines," concluded several historians, "supported the Spanish empire."[35]

In the 19th century, primary production of silver moved to North America, particularly Canada, Mexico, and Nevada in the United States: some secondary production from lead and zinc ores also took place in Europe, and deposits in Siberia and the Russian Far East as well as in Australia were mined.[26] Poland emerged as an important producer during the 1970s after the discovery of copper deposits that were rich in silver, before the centre of production returned to the Americas the following decade. Today, Peru and Mexico are still among the primary silver producers, but the distribution of silver production around the world is quite balanced and about one-fifth of the silver supply comes from recycling instead of new production.[26]

Symbolic roleRediger

16th-century fresco painting of Judas being paid thirty pieces of silver for his betrayal of Jesus

Silver plays a certain role in mythology and has found various usage as a metaphor and in folklore. The Greek poet Hesiod's Works and Days (lines 109–201) lists different ages of man named after metals like gold, silver, bronze and iron to account for successive ages of humanity.[36] Ovid's Metamorphoses contains another retelling of the story, containing an illustration of silver's metaphorical use of signifying the second-best in a series, better than bronze but worse than gold:


In folklore, silver was commonly thought to have mystic powers: for example, a bullet cast from silver is often supposed in such folklore the only weapon that is effective against a werewolf, witch, or other monsters.[37][38][39] From this the idiom of a silver bullet developed into figuratively referring to any simple solution with very high effectiveness or almost miraculous results, as in the widely discussed software engineering paper No Silver Bullet.[40] Other powers attributed to silver include detection of poison and facilitation of passage into the mythical realm of fairies.[39]

Silver production has also inspired figurative language. Clear references to cupellation occur throughout the Old Testament of the Bible, such as in Jeremiah's rebuke to Judah: "The bellows are burned, the lead is consumed of the fire; the founder melteth in vain: for the wicked are not plucked away. Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the Lord hath rejected them." (Jeremiah 6:19–20) Jeremiah was also aware of sheet silver, exemplifying the malleability and ductility of the metal: "Silver spread into plates is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the workman, and of the hands of the founder: blue and purple is their clothing: they are all the work of cunning men." (Jeremiah 10:9)[25]

Silver also has more negative cultural meanings: the idiom thirty pieces of silver, referring to a reward for betrayal, references the bribe Judas Iscariot is said in the New Testament to have taken from Jewish leaders in Jerusalem to turn Jesus of Nazareth over to soldiers of the high priest Caiaphas.[41] Ethically, silver also symbolizes greed and degradation of consciousness; this is the negative aspect, the perverting of its value.[42]

Occurrence and productionRediger

Yderligere information: Silver mining
Acanthite sample from the Chispas Mine in Sonora, Mexico; scale at bottom of image as one inch with a rule at one centimetre

The abundance of silver in the Earth's crust is 0.08 parts per million, almost exactly the same as that of mercury. It mostly occurs in sulfide ores, especially acanthite and argentite, Ag2S. Argentite deposits sometimes also contain native silver when they occur in reducing environments, and when in contact with salt water they are converted to chlorargyrite (including horn silver), AgCl, which is prevalent in Chile and New South Wales.[43] Most other silver minerals are silver pnictides or chalcogenides; they are generally lustrous semiconductors. Most true silver deposits, as opposed to argentiferous deposits of other metals, came from Tertiary period vulcanism.[44]

The principal sources of silver are the ores of copper, copper-nickel, lead, and lead-zinc obtained from Peru, Bolivia, Mexico, China, Australia, Chile, Poland and Serbia.[27] Peru, Bolivia and Mexico have been mining silver since 1546, and are still major world producers. Top silver-producing mines are Cannington (Australia), Fresnillo (Mexico), San Cristóbal (Bolivia), Antamina (Peru), Rudna (Poland), and Penasquito (Mexico).[45] Top near-term mine development projects through 2015 are Pascua Lama (Chile), Navidad (Argentina), Jaunicipio (Mexico), Malku Khota (Bolivia),[46] and Hackett River (Canada).[45] In Central Asia, Tajikistan is known to have some of the largest silver deposits in the world.[47]

Silver is usually found in nature combined with other metals, or in minerals that contain silver compounds, generally in the form of sulfides such as galena (lead sulfide) or cerussite (lead carbonate). So the primary production of silver requires the smelting and then cupellation of argentiferous lead ores, a historically important process.[48] Lead melts at 327 °C, lead oxide at 888 °C and silver melts at 960 °C. To separate the silver, the alloy is melted again at the high temperature of 960 °C to 1000 °C in an oxidizing environment. The lead oxidises to lead monoxide, then known as litharge, which captures the oxygen from the other metals present. The liquid lead oxide is removed or absorbed by capillary action into the hearth linings.[49][50][51]

Ag(s) + 2Pb(s) + O2(g) → 2PbO(absorbed) + Ag(l)

Today, silver metal is primarily produced instead as a secondary byproduct of electrolytic refining of copper, lead, and zinc, and by application of the Parkes process on lead bullion from ore that also contains silver.[52] In such processes, silver follows the non-ferrous metal in question through its concentration and smelting, and is later purified out. For example, in copper production, purified copper is electrolytically deposited on the cathode, while the less reactive precious metals such as silver and gold collect under the anode as the so-called "anode slime". This is then separated and purified of base metals by treatment with hot aerated dilute sulfuric acid and heating with lime or silica flux, before the silver is purified to over 99.9% purity via electrolysis in nitrate solution.[43]

Commercial-grade fine silver is at least 99.9% pure, and purities greater than 99.999% are available. In 2014, Mexico was the top producer of silver (5,000 tonnes or 18.7% of the world's total of 26,800 t), followed by China (4,060 t) and Peru (3,780 t).[52]

In marine environmentsRediger

Silver concentration is low in seawater (pmol/L). Levels vary by depth and between water bodies. Dissolved silver concentrations range from 0.3 pmol/L in coastal surface waters to 22.8 pmol/L in pelagic deep waters.[53] Analyzing the presence and dynamics of silver in marine environments is difficult due to these particularly low concentrations and complex interactions in the environment.[54] Although a rare trace metal, concentrations are greatly impacted by fluvial, aeolian, atmospheric, and upwelling inputs, as well as anthropogenic inputs via discharge, waste disposal, and emissions from industrial companies.[55][56] Other internal processes such as decomposition of organic matter may be a source of dissolved silver in deeper waters, which feeds into some surface waters through upwelling and vertical mixing.[56]

In the Atlantic and Pacific, silver concentrations are minimal at the surface but rise in deeper waters.[57] Silver is taken up by plankton in the photic zone, remobilized with depth, and enriched in deep waters. Silver is transported from the Atlantic to the other oceanic water masses.[55] In North Pacific waters, silver is remobilized at a slower rate and increasingly enriched compared to deep Atlantic waters. Silver has increasing concentrations that follow the major oceanic conveyor belt that cycles water and nutrients from the North Atlantic to the South Atlantic to the North Pacific.[58]

There is not an extensive amount of data focused on how marine life is affected by silver despite the likely deleterious effects it could have on organisms through bioaccumulation, association with particulate matters, and sorption.[53] Not until about 1984 did scientists begin to understand the chemical characteristics of silver and the potential toxicity. In fact, mercury is the only other trace metal that surpasses the toxic effects of silver; however, the full extent of silver toxicity is not expected in oceanic conditions because of its ability to transfer into nonreactive biological compounds.[59]

In one study, the presence of excess ionic silver and silver nanoparticles caused bioaccumulation effects on zebrafish organs and altered the chemical pathways within their gills.[60] In addition, very early experimental studies demonstrated how the toxic effects of silver fluctuate with salinity and other parameters, as well as between life stages and different species such as finfish, molluscs, and crustaceans.[61] Another study found raised concentrations of silver in the muscles and liver of dolphins and whales, indicating pollution of this metal within recent decades. Silver is not an easy metal for an organism to eliminate and elevated concentrations can cause death.[62]

Monetary useRediger

A 2004 American Silver Eagle bullion coin, minted in .999 fine silver.

The earliest known coins were minted in the kingdom of Lydia in Asia Minor around 600 BC.[63] The coins of Lydia were made of electrum, which is a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver, that was available within the territory of Lydia.[63] Since that time, silver standards, in which the standard economic unit of account is a fixed weight of silver, have been widespread throughout the world until the 20th century. Notable silver coins through the centuries include the Greek drachma,[64] the Roman denarius,[65] the Islamic dirham,[66] the karshapana from ancient India and rupee from the time of the Mughal Empire (grouped with copper and gold coins to create a trimetallic standard),[67] and the Spanish dollar.[68][69]

The ratio between the amount of silver used for coinage and that used for other purposes has fluctuated greatly over time; for example, in wartime, more silver tends to have been used for coinage to finance the war.[70]

Today, silver bullion has the ISO 4217 currency code XAG, one of only four precious metals to have one (the others being palladium, platinum, and gold).[71] Silver coins are produced from cast rods or ingots, rolled to the correct thickness, heat-treated, and then used to cut blanks from. These blanks are then milled and minted in a coining press; modern coining presses can produce 8000 silver coins per hour.[70]


Silver prices are normally quoted in troy ounces. One troy ounce is equal to 31,1034768 gram. The London silver fix is published every working day at noon London time.[72] This price is determined by several major international banks and is used by London bullion market members for trading that day. Prices are most commonly shown as the United States dollar (USD), the Pound sterling (GBP), and the Euro (EUR).


Jewellery and silverwareRediger

Embossed silver sarcophagus of Saint Stanislaus in the Wawel Cathedral was created in main centers of the 17th century European silversmithery - Augsburg and Gdańsk[73]
17th century silver cutlery

The major use of silver besides coinage throughout most of history was in the manufacture of jewellery and other general-use items, and this continues to be a major use today. Examples include table silver for cutlery, for which silver is highly suited due to its antibacterial properties. Western concert flutes are usually plated with or made out of sterling silver;[74] in fact, most silverware is only silver-plated rather than made out of pure silver; the silver is normally put in place by electroplating. Silver-plated glass (as opposed to metal) is used for mirrors, vacuum flasks, and Christmas tree decorations.[75]

Because pure silver is very soft, most silver used for these purposes is alloyed with copper, with finenesses of 925/1000, 835/1000, and 800/1000 being common. One drawback is the easy tarnishing of silver in the presence of hydrogen sulfide and its derivatives. Including precious metals such as palladium, platinum, and gold gives resistance to tarnishing but is quite costly; base metals like zinc, cadmium, silicon, and germanium do not totally prevent corrosion and tend to affect the lustre and colour of the alloy. Electrolytically refined pure silver plating is effective at increasing resistance to tarnishing. The usual solutions for restoring the lustre of tarnished silver are dipping baths that reduce the silver sulfide surface to metallic silver, and cleaning off the layer of tarnish with a paste; the latter approach also has the welcome side effect of polishing the silver concurrently.[74] A simple chemical approach to removal of the sulfide tarnish is to bring silver items into contact with aluminium foil whilst immersed in water containing a conducting salt, such as sodium chloride.[kilde mangler]


  Hovedartikel: Medical uses of silver.

In medicine, silver is incorporated into wound dressings and used as an antibiotic coating in medical devices. Wound dressings containing silver sulfadiazine or silver nanomaterials are used to treat external infections. Silver is also used in some medical applications, such as urinary catheters (where tentative evidence indicates it reduces catheter-related urinary tract infections) and in endotracheal breathing tubes (where evidence suggests it reduces ventilator-associated pneumonia).[76][77] The silver ion is bioactive and in sufficient concentration readily kills bacteria in vitro. Silver ions interfere with enzymes in the bacteria that transport nutrients, form structures, and synthesise cell walls; these ions also bond with the bacteria's genetic material. Silver and silver nanoparticles are used as an antimicrobial in a variety of industrial, healthcare, and domestic application: for example, infusing clothing with nanosilver particles thus allows them to stay odourless for longer.[78][79] Bacteria can, however, develop resistance to the antimicrobial action of silver.[80] Silver compounds are taken up by the body like mercury compounds, but lack the toxicity of the latter. Silver and its alloys are used in cranial surgery to replace bone, and silver–tin–mercury amalgams are used in dentistry.[75] Silver diammine fluoride, the fluoride salt of a coordination complex with the formula [Ag(NH3)2]F, is a topical medicament (drug) used to treat and prevent dental caries (cavities) and relieve dentinal hypersensitivity.[81]


Silver is very important in electronics for conductors and electrodes on account of its high electrical conductivity even when tarnished. Bulk silver and silver foils were used to make vacuum tubes, and continue to be used today in the manufacture of semiconductor devices, circuits, and their components. For example, silver is used in high quality connectors for RF, VHF, and higher frequencies, particularly in tuned circuits such as cavity filters where conductors cannot be scaled by more than 6%. Printed circuits and RFID antennas are made with silver paints,[27][82] Powdered silver and its alloys are used in paste preparations for conductor layers and electrodes, ceramic capacitors, and other ceramic components.[83]

Brazing alloysRediger

Silver-containing brazing alloys are used for brazing metallic materials, mostly cobalt, nickel, and copper-based alloys, tool steels, and precious metals. The basic components are silver and copper, with other elements selected according to the specific application desired: examples include zinc, tin, cadmium, palladium, manganese, and phosphorus. Silver provides increased workability and corrosion resistance during usage.[84]

Chemical equipmentRediger

Silver is useful in the manufacture of chemical equipment on account of its low chemical reactivity, high thermal conductivity, and being easily workable. Silver crucibles (alloyed with 0.15% nickel to avoid recrystallisation of the metal at red heat) are used for carrying out alkaline fusion. Copper and silver are also used when doing chemistry with fluorine. Equipment made to work at high temperatures is often silver-plated. Silver and its alloys with gold are used as wire or ring seals for oxygen compressors and vacuum equipment.[85]


Silver metal is a good catalyst for oxidation reactions; in fact it is somewhat too good for most purposes, as finely divided silver tends to result in complete oxidation of organic substances to carbon dioxide and water, and hence coarser-grained silver tends to be used instead. For instance, 15% silver supported on α-Al2O3 or silicates is a catalyst for the oxidation of ethylene to ethylene oxide at 230–270 °C. Dehydrogenation of methanol to formaldehyde is conducted at 600–720 °C over silver gauze or crystals as the catalyst, as is dehydrogenation of isopropanol to acetone. In the gas phase, glycol yields glyoxal and ethanol yields acetaldehyde, while organic amines are dehydrated to nitriles.[85]


The photosensitivity of the silver halides allowed for their use in traditional photography, although digital photography, which does not use silver, is now dominant. The photosensitive emulsion used in black-and-white photography is a suspension of silver halide crystals in gelatin, possibly mixed in with some noble metal compounds for improved photosensitivity, developing, and tuning. Colour photography requires the addition of special dye components and sensitisers, so that the initial black-and-white silver image couples with a different dye component. The original silver images are bleached off and the silver is then recovered and recycled. Silver nitrate is the starting material in all cases.[86]

The use of silver nitrate and silver halides in photography has rapidly declined with the advent of digital technology. From the peak global demand for photographic silver in 1999 (267,000,000 troy ounces or 8304.6 metric tonnes) the market contracted almost 70% by 2013.[87]


  Hovedartikel: Silver nanoparticle.

Nanosilver particles, between 10 and 100 nanometres in size, are used in many applications. They are used in conductive inks for printed electronics, and have a much lower melting point than larger silver particles of micrometre size. They are also used medicinally in antibacterials and antifungals in much the same way as larger silver particles.[79] In addition, according to the European Union Observatory for Nanomaterials (EUON), silver nanoparticles are used both in pigments, as well as cosmetics.[88][89]


A tray of South Asian sweets, with some pieces covered with shiny silver vark

Pure silver metal is used as a food colouring. It has the E174 designation and is approved in the European Union.[90] Traditional Pakistani and Indian dishes sometimes include decorative silver foil known as vark,[91] and in various other cultures, silver dragée are used to decorate cakes, cookies, and other dessert items.[92]

Photochromic lenses include silver halides, so that ultraviolet light in natural daylight liberates metallic silver, darkening the lenses. The silver halides are reformed in lower light intensities. Colourless silver chloride films are used in radiation detectors. Zeolite sieves incorporating Ag+ ions are used to desalinate seawater during rescues, using silver ions to precipitate chloride as silver chloride. Silver is also used for its antibacterial properties for water sanitisation, but the application of this is limited by limits on silver consumption. Colloidal silver is similarly used to disinfect closed swimming pools; while it has the advantage of not giving off a smell like hypochlorite treatments do, colloidal silver is not effective enough for more contaminated open swimming pools. Small silver iodide crystals are used in cloud seeding to cause rain.[79]


Skabelon:Chembox Silver compounds have low toxicity compared to those of most other heavy metals, as they are poorly absorbed by the human body when digested, and that which does get absorbed is rapidly converted to insoluble silver compounds or complexed by metallothionein. However, silver fluoride and silver nitrate are caustic and can cause tissue damage, resulting in gastroenteritis, diarrhoea, falling blood pressure, cramps, paralysis, and respiratory arrest. Animals repeatedly dosed with silver salts have been observed to experience anaemia, slowed growth, necrosis of the liver, and fatty degeneration of the liver and kidneys; rats implanted with silver foil or injected with colloidal silver have been observed to develop localised tumours. Parenterally admistered colloidal silver causes acute silver poisoning.[93] Some waterborne species are particularly sensitive to silver salts and those of the other precious metals; in most situations, however, silver does not pose serious environmental hazards.[93]

In large doses, silver and compounds containing it can be absorbed into the circulatory system and become deposited in various body tissues, leading to argyria, which results in a blue-grayish pigmentation of the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes. Argyria is rare, and so far as is known, does not otherwise harm a person's health, though it is disfiguring and usually permanent. Mild forms of argyria are sometimes mistaken for cyanosis.[93][27]

Metallic silver, like copper, is an antibacterial agent, which was known to the ancients and first scientifically investigated and named the oligodynamic effect by Carl Nägeli. Silver ions damage the metabolism of bacteria even at such low concentrations as 0.01–0.1 milligrams per litre; metallic silver has a similar effect due to the formation of silver oxide. This effect is lost in the presence of sulfur due to the extreme insolubility of silver sulfide.[93]

Some silver compounds are very explosive, such as the nitrogen compounds silver azide, silver amide, and silver fulminate, as well as silver acetylide, silver oxalate, and silver(II) oxide. They can explode on heating, force, drying, illumination, or sometimes spontaneously. To avoid the formation of such compounds, ammonia and acetylene should be kept away from silver equipment. Salts of silver with strongly oxidising acids such as silver chlorate and silver nitrate can explode on contact with materials that can be readily oxidised, such as organic compounds, sulfur and soot.[93]

See alsoRediger


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Sources used aboveRediger

Further readingRediger

  • William L. Silber, The Story of Silver: How the White Metal Shaped America and the Modern World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2019.

External linksRediger

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