Silver, whose chemical symbol is Ag (Greek: άργυρος árguros, Latin: argentum, both from the Indo-European root *arg- for “grey” or “shining”), is one of the most versatile elements we know. It has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal. Silver occurs in pure form, as an alloy with other metals or in minerals. The white, shiny metal has been long valued as a precious metal, thus used for silver coins, bullion, bars, ornaments, jewelry, and tableware.
Yet, silver is also a crucial component in technology. In fact, 7,916,000 ounces of silver were produced globally in 2011. It is used in the photographic industry, as well as for electronic devices like switches, superconductors or circuit boards. Moreover, silver ions and compound can kill bacteria, algae, and fungi; therefore, silver helps purify, sanitize, and filter water. The pharmaceutical industry makes use of silver’s antibacterial qualities, too. Amazingly, silver is also applied in innovative fields like green technology and nano technology.
Whether we turn on the light, go to the spa, fly on a plane or get a bandage at the hospital, silver is becoming an increasingly vital part of our daily lives.