The MGS Precious Metals Blog

Manhattan Gold & Silver is an industry leader in precious metal pricing and refining with more than 30 years of experience. During our time in the business, we’ve found the topic of precious metals to be a vast and interesting one. Here on our precious metals blog, we write in-depth posts about the science of precious metal refining, historical and modern uses for precious metals, market news, and much more. Subscribe to our RSS feed to stay current, and discuss the latest posts on our Facebook page.

What's Behind the Demand for Silver?

October 15, 2019 07:00
What's Behind the Demand for Silver?

It’s hard to imagine there was a time when silver hit $49 per ounce. While the white metal hasn’t climbed that high since April 2011, there has been some speculation silver could rise past $20 per ounce in 2019. What exactly determines the price of silver? One factor, like most commodities, is supply and demand.

Most silver mines aren’t profitable when silver prices drop below $20—where they have been for some time. As a result, a number of silver companies have had to put their mines in maintenance mode or halt mine expansion altogether. This has caused a decrease in global silver production.

Meanwhile, the Silver Institute reports global silver demand rose 4 percent to 1 billion ounces in 2018--the first time demand has risen year-over-year since 2015. The demand, coupled with a decrease in supply, has caused prices to rise.

When it comes to silver, what is creating the demand? Silver is used in investments, jewelry, and electrical applications, to name a few. Here are some of the top applications for silver:

Silver in Electronics

Silver is highly reliable and durable. In the electrical field, silver is often used in the form of silver paste. Its electrical conductivity makes it an ideal choice for electronics such as:

  • Printed circuit boards
  • TV screens
  • Phones
  • Microwave ovens
  • Keyboards

Consumer demand for electronics isn’t likely to decrease anytime soon.

Silver in Energy

Because it has the highest electrical and thermal conductivity of all metals, silver is vital for the manufacturing of solar panels.

In solar cells, silver powder gets turned into a paste that contains silver particles, which is then loaded onto a silicon wafer. When light strikes the silicon, electrons are set into motion, initiating a flow of electricity for either immediate use or to be stored in batteries.

Many experts estimate that solar power could become the world's largest source of electricity by 2050, which could have an impact on the global price of silver.

Silver in Medicine

Silver has been used as an antimicrobial agent by civilizations for thousands of years. And did you know ship captains used to toss silver coins into storage barrels to keep drinking water fresh?

In hospitals today, silver is used in bandages to treat burn victims and destroy pathogenic microbes on catheters. Coating medical equipment with small amounts of silver has also shown to prevent the spread of pathogens.

Its antibiotic property is what has given silver a vital role in medicine. The presence of antibiotic-resistant superbugs has only increased the demand for silver.

Silver in Silverware and Jewelry

Silver cutlery and rings date back to the 14th Century. Although it can tarnish, silver is less costly than gold, making it a standard choice. It also resists oxidation and corrosion.

Because it’s pliable, silver is also easy to hammer and mold into different forms and shapes. The Silver Institute predicts silver jewelry will remain the most popular alternative to gold in the United States, with demand expected to grow in 2019.

Other Silver Uses

Other uses for silver include:

  • Awards and medals
  • Photography
  • Mirrors and glass
  • Chemical production
  • Coins and investments

Thinking of investing in silver? Viewing the silver price history can help you to better understand the market surrounding this precious metal. Our customizable silver price charts provides records of silver price history based on fixings published by the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA).

How Silver Is Used to Make Folding Phone Screens

August 21, 2019 07:00
How Silver Is Used to Make Folding Phone Screens

It's still early days for the technology, but it looks like folding touchscreen displays for TVs, smartphones, and other gadgets are going to be the next big thing in consumer electronics. Manufacturers like Sony, Samsung, Nokia, and others are still troubleshooting the best materials to use in flexible display technology – and silver definitely looks promising.

Touchscreen technology works by using tiny electrodes on the surface of the screen to receive input from a user's fingers. Currently, more than 90% of touchscreen electrodes are made with indium tin oxide (ITO). But in a flexible display designed to bend forward and backward repeatedly, the ITO electrodes crack – lowering image fidelity and causing the touchscreen to lose input sensitivity. Substituting ITO with a material that would be conducive to flexing without sacrificing electrical conductivity has been one of the challenges in designing a mass-market flexible display.

With its flexibility, conductivity, and formability, silver is a nearly perfect replacement for ITO in making the touch-sensitive electrodes in folding screens. But, there is one critical drawback: opacity. Similar to the struggles that solar panel designers have faced with silver wiring blocking incoming sunlight, the network of silver electrodes can block the display’s outgoing light – reducing the perceived color and sharpness of the image.

However, there may be a way to overcome silver’s opacity issues. In our next post, we’ll explain how some manufactures are planning to use silver metamaterial to bring flexible displays even closer to reality.

Tech Innovations Made Possible with Silver in 2018

March 13, 2019 07:00
Tech Innovations Made Possible with Silver in 2018

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.

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