In addition to being a store of value, silver is a metal with lots of useful physical and chemical properties. It’s antimicrobial, has a high level of plasticity, and has the best thermal and electrical conductivity of any metal on the periodic table. These characteristics (to name only a few) place silver at the forefront of raw materials used in the development of new technologies across a variety of industries.
According to the Silver Institute, electronic and electrical applications are expected to drive a higher demand for silver in 2019. To give you an idea of how this industry sector uses silver, here are some new technologies that were made possible in 2018 thanks to this precious metal.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) scientists designed an ingest-able capsule that can carry and release dosages of medicine via commands received over a Bluetooth connection. By equipping additional sensors, scientists hope that the capsule can also be used detect infections, allergic reactions, gastric juices, fever or other conditions – and then release a drug in response. To ensure it will be able to function in the body for months at a time, the capsule uses silver-oxide battery technology to achieve the ratio of power capacity to size.
Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee (IITRoorkee, India), have developed an eco-friendly nanocomposite made with silver nitrate and Kappa Carrageenan – a polymer derived from red seaweed that is used as a thickening and emulsifying agent in foodstuffs. The nanocomposite substance is capable of penetrating the bacterial biofilms that form on medical equipment like catheters and ventilators to kill microbes and prevent infections.
Scientists from the Singapore University of Design and Technology developed a new material that improves the light absorption capabilities of solar panels. Dubbed “Black Silver,” the material consists of silver particles arranged in a nanoscale structure that allows it capture greater amounts of visible and infrared light.