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Silver’s Growing Role in Global Connectivity and Other Silver News

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The use of silver in electronics and electrical applications is expected to rise by 10% over the next five years. And this doesn’t include the expected demand increase for silver in the solar energy sector.

This is one of several silver-related stories covered in the latest edition of Silver News published by the Silver Institute.

According to a recent report published by the silver institute, the use of silver in electronics is projected to increase from 224 million ounces to 246 million ounces by 2025. This underscores silver’s growing role in emerging technologies.

“Today, silver is found in nearly all electronic devices,” the report noted. “With the greatest electrical conductivity of all metals, silver is playing a critical role in the latest technological advancements. Silver’s inherent conductivity is an important asset in the miniaturization of electronics; allowing electrical currents to flow in even the smallest semiconductors and computer chips.”

More broadly, silver plays an important role in providing increased access to information, global markets, and communication. The metal is integral to applications such as the expansion of 5G communications technology. The report also notes that silver offtake in electronics and electrical applications will benefit from the global green revolution’s need for additional power distribution to connect renewable power, off-grid energy storage, and increasingly, the installation of electric vehicle charging stations.

The latest edition of Silver News also highlights some other fascinating technological advances utilizing the white metal, along with some developments in the silver market. Here are some highlights.

  • When certain bacteria break down organic wastes, such as those found in wastewater, it produces small amounts of electricity. A team of engineers and chemists from the University of California, Los Angeles, discovered that when they added silver nanoparticles to electrodes composed of a type of graphene oxide (a combination of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen), the nanoparticles released silver ions that traveled inside the bacteria’s cells, capturing even more electrons produced by the bacteria.  In effect, this boosts the amount of electricity produced and could prove to be a viable source of power in the future.
  • Hydrogen has been called the “fuel of the future” by some energy experts because when burned in oxygen the gas does not produce carbon dioxide or other harmful greenhouse gases. The byproduct of combustion is water. But hydrogen is difficult to store. The lighter-than-air gas is highly volatile at ambient temperatures and must be stored at extremely low temperatures or high pressure. Silver, gold and copper may offer an answer, according to Cristina Trujillo, PhD., Trinity College, Dublin Ireland, who, working with researchers from the Instituto de Química Médica in Spain, discovered that compounds of the three metals were able to react with hydrogen atoms during its production in a manner that kept the end product from being dangerously volatile.
  • Nanosilver dressings have been found to improve many outcomes of body wounds and infections, and studies have shown that it is particularly beneficial in the treatment of diabetic foot. In a recent peer-reviewed study, the authors noted, “Nano-silver dressings are a novel form of long-spectrum, safe, antibacterial dressing… In addition to protecting the wound, facilitating better drainage, and improving safe broad-spectrum anti-infection role, related studies show that its application in the treatment of diabetic foot holds significant advantages.”
  • Lithium has become a highly sought-after element due to its growing use in batteries. Seawater contains lithium, and silver is helping to extract it.
  • Medical sensors attached to a patient’s skin offer the strongest and clearest signals for checking muscle activity which is vital for studying muscle fatigue and recovery from injuries. However, sensors on the skin can be uncomfortable, especially for prolonged periods, and doctors are always seeking alternatives. Researchers from the University of Utah and Gyeongsang National University in South Korea have developed a bioelectrical sensor that is silk-screened onto fabric. It uses silver wrapped in gold to create this wearable sensor.

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