Frampton, Boston (PressExposure) March 26, 2009 -- Jewellery and silverware are traditionally made from sterling silver (standard silver), an alloy of 92.5% silver with 7.5% copper. In the United States, only an alloy consisting of at least 92.5% fine silver can be marketed as "silver". Sterling silver is harder than pure silver, and has a lower melting point (893 Â°C) than either pure silver or pure copper. Sterling silver jewelry is often plated with a thin coat of .999 fine silver to give the item a shiny finish. This process is called "flashing". Silver jewelry can also be plated with rhodium for a bright, shiny look.
Dentistry: Silver can be alloyed with mercury and tin at room temperature to make amalgams that are widely used for dental fillings. To make dental amalgam, a mixture of powdered silver and other metals is mixed with mercury to make a stiff paste that can be adapted to the shape of a cavity.
Photography and electronics: Photography used 24% of the silver consumed in 2001 in the form of silver nitrate and silver halides, while 33% was used in jewelry, 40% for industrial uses, and only 3% for coins and medals. Some electrical and electronic products use silver for its superior conductivity, even when tarnished.
Mirrors and optics: Mirrors which need superior reflectivity for visible light are made with silver as the reflecting material in a process called silvering, though common mirrors are backed with aluminium. Using a process called sputtering, silver (and sometimes gold) can be applied to glass at various thicknesses, allowing different amounts of light to penetrate.
Nuclear reactors: Because silver readily absorbs free neutrons, it is commonly used to make control rods that regulate the fission chain reaction in pressurized water nuclear reactors, generally in the form of an alloy containing 80% silver, 15% indium, and 5% cadmium.
Catalyst :Silver's catalytic properties make it ideal for use as a catalyst in oxidation reactions, for example, the production of formaldehyde from methanol and air by means of silver screens or crystallites containing a minimum 99.95 weight-percent silver.
Silver ions and silver compounds show a toxic effect on some bacteria, viruses, algae and fungi, typical for heavy metals like lead or mercury, but without the high toxicity to humans that are normally associated with these other metals. Its germicidal effects kill many microbial organisms in vitro, but testing and standardization of silver products is difficult.