Elements for Kids
Characteristics and Properties
Under standard conditions silver is a soft metal that has a shiny metallic finish. It is very ductile (meaning it can be pulled into a wire) and malleable (meaning it can be hammered into a flat sheet).
Silver has the highest electrical conductivity of all the elements as well as the highest thermal conductivity of the metals. It is also very reflective.
Silver is not very reactive. It will not react with air or water. It will tarnish, however, when coming into contact with sulfur compounds.
Where is it found on Earth?
Silver is a relatively rare element found in the Earth's crust. It is found both in its free form and in minerals such as argentite. It is often mined with other metal ores including copper, lead, zinc, and gold. Most of the silver mined in the United States is from the state of Nevada. The major worldwide producers of silver are Peru, Mexico, and China.
How is silver used today?
Sliver has been used since ancient times to make jewelry and silverware. Today, standard silver is an alloy of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper called sterling silver.
Another ancient use of silver was to make coins. Silver has been used as money for thousands of years. Today, few coins are still made from silver because of its high cost.
Silver is used in the electronics industry because of its excellent electrical conductivity. It is mostly used in high end applications where the cheaper metal copper can't do the job. It is also used in long life batteries.
Other applications for silver include mirrors, dental fillings, musical instruments, and nuclear reactors.
How was it discovered?
Silver was one of the first metals discovered by ancient peoples. Silver artifacts have been found in many ancient civilizations such as the Sumer from 3000 BC.
Where did silver get its name?
It comes from the Anglo-Saxon word "seolfor" for the element. The symbol Ag comes from the Latin word "argentum" for silver.
There are two naturally occurring stable isotopes of silver: silver-107 and silver-109.
Interesting Facts about Silver
- Its two stable isotopes are nearly the same in abundance, which is rare for an element.
- The official currency of the United Kingdom is called the pound sterling which was originally equal in value to one pound of silver.
- Up until the recent advancement of digital cameras, around 30% of silver production was used for photography in the compound silver nitrate.
- The silver compound silver iodide (AgI) is used in cloud seeding to produce rain.
- Silver nanoparticles are sometimes added to clothing as they can help to prevent the growth of fungi and bacteria.
More on the Elements and the Periodic Table
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