Silver has the highest electrical and thermal conductivity among elements, and it appears naturally in pure form or in ores of lead, copper and zinc and also in minerals such as argentite and chlorargyrite. Most of the silver is produced as a by-product from copper, gold, lead, and zinc refining while the remaining comes from recycling. Geographically, Mexico is the largest producer of silver globally.
Apart from being used in a variety of industrial applications, silver is also used for the purpose of investment, coinage and jewellery. Of these, industrial applications accounts for the highest share in the silver market. Silver is used across various industrial applications such as electronics, soldering and brazing alloy, batteries, dentistry, glass coatings, LED chips, medicine, nuclear reactors, photography, photovoltaic cells, semiconductors, touch screens, water purification, wood preservative and other industrial uses.
Electrical and thermal conductivity of silver makes it a primary constituent in photovoltaic cells. It is used in the form of paste that helps convert sunlight into electrical energy from solar cells. Its reflective properties are also put to use in the solar panels to harness sunlight. Global adoption of solar energy is expected to drive demand for silver in the coming years.
In addition, silver usage in nanotechnology is a growing area of interest. End-user segments of nanosilver include electrical & electronics, healthcare, food & beverages, textile, water treatment, etc. Of these, electrical & electronics is emerging as the major end-user segment followed by healthcare segment. In electrical & electronics segment nanosilver is primarily used in electronic printing equipment. Growing consumer electronics industry and applications across healthcare are expected to be the major drivers of the nanosilver market. Conversely, high cost associated with manufacturing of pure nanosilver due to high initial investments in research and development are going to deter the market growth.
Anti-bacterial and lower toxicity properties of silver makes it good choice for usage in medical applications. It is used in medical applications like surgical equipment, catheters, hearing aids, wound dressings and antibacterial creams.
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