Periodic Table > Silver
 

Terminology


Allotropes
Some elements exist in several different structural forms, these are called allotropes.


For more information on Murray Robertson’s image see Uses/Interesting Facts below.

 

Fact Box Terminology


Group
Elements appear in columns or ‘groups’ in the periodic table. Members of a group typically have similar properties and electron configurations in their outer shell.


Period
Elements are laid out into rows or ‘periods’ so that similar chemical behaviour is observed in columns.


Block
Elements are organised into blocks by the orbital type in which the outer electrons are found. These blocks are named for the characteristic spectra they produce: sharp, principal, diffuse, and fundamental.


Atomic Number
The number of protons in the nucleus.


Atomic Radius/non -bonded (Å)
based on Van der Waals forces (where several isotopes exist, a value is presented for the most prevalent isotope). These values were calculated using a multitude of methods including crystallographic data, gas kinetic collision cross sections, critical densities, liquid state properties, for more details please refer to the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics.


Electron Configuration
The arrangements of electrons above the last (closed shell) noble gas.


Isotopes
Elements are defined by the number of protons in its centre (nucleus), whilst the number of neutrons present can vary. The variations in the number of neutrons will create elements of different mass which are known as isotopes.


Melting Point (oC)
The temperature at which the solid-liquid phase change occurs.


Melting Point (K)
The temperature at which the solid-liquid phase change occurs.


Melting Point (oF)
The temperature at which the solid-liquid phase change occurs.


Boiling Point (oC)
The temperature at which the liquid-gas phase change occurs.


Boiling Point (K)
The temperature at which the liquid-gas phase change occurs.


Boiling Point (oF)
The temperature at which the liquid-gas phase change occurs.


Sublimation
Elements that do not possess a liquid phase at atmospheric pressure (1 atm) are described as going through a sublimation process.


Density (kgm-3)
Density is the weight of a substance that would fill 1 m3 (at 298 K unless otherwise stated).


Relative Atomic Mass
The mass of an atom relative to that of Carbon-12. This is approximately the sum of the number of protons and neutrons in the nucleus. Where more than one isotope exists the value given is the abundance weighted average.


Key Isotopes (% abundance)
An element must by definition have a fixed number of protons in its nucleus, and as such has a fixed atomic number, however variants of an element can exist with differing numbers of neutrons, and hence a different atomic masses (e.g. 12C has 6 protons and 6 neutrons and 13C has 6 protons and 7 neutrons).


CAS number
The Chemical Abstracts Service registry number is a unique identifier of a particular chemical, designed to prevent confusion arising from different languages and naming systems (where several isotopes exist, a value is presented for the most prevalent isotope).

Fact Box

 
Group 11  Melting point 961.78 oC, 1763.204 oF, 1234.93 K 
Period Boiling point 2162 oC, 3923.6 oF, 2435.15 K 
Block Density (kg m-3) 10500 
Atomic number 47  Relative atomic mass 107.868  
State at room temperature Solid  Key isotopes 107Ag 
Electron configuration [Kr] 4d105s1  CAS number 7440-22-4 
ChemSpider ID 22394 ChemSpider is a free chemical structure database
 

Interesting Facts terminology


Image Explanation

Murray Robertson is the artist behind the images which make up Visual Elements. This is where the artist explains his interpretation of the element and the science behind the picture.


Natural Abundance

Where this element is most commonly found in nature.


Biological Roles

The elements role within the body of humans, animals and plants. Also functionality in medical advancements both today and years ago.


Appearance

The description of the element in its natural form.

Uses / Interesting Facts

 
Image explanation
Silver was important to ancient civilisations (often both spiritually and economically) and the symbol is widely used throughout the history of alchemy to denote the metal, hence the use of this within the image. The background is a detail from the "Gundestrup Cauldron", the largest known example of European Iron Age silver work, which is thought to represent imagery from the Celtic pantheon.
Appearance
Silver tarnishes slowly as sulfur compounds in the atmosphere react with the surface to form black silver sulfide. Silver has been used for jewellery and tableware since ancient times, but it is also employed for silvering glass and in photography, as well as for industrial uses. World production is about 10,000 tonnes per year. Silver is present in the human body but has no known role.
Source

Uses
Sterling silver contains 92.5% silver, the remainder being copper or some other metal, and is used for jewellery and silverware where appearance is important. About 30% of silver produced is used in the photographic, electrical and electronic industry, mostly as silver(I) nitrate. Silver is used in dental alloys, solder and brazing alloys, electrical contacts and batteries. Silver paints are used for making printed circuits. The metal is used to make mirrors, as it is the best reflector of visible light known, although it does tarnish with time.
Biological role
Silver has no known biological role, although it is a suspected carcinogen. Silver compounds can be absorbed in the circulatory system and reduced silver deposited in various organs. This results in greyish pigmentation of the skin and mucous membranes, known as argyria. Silver has germicidal effects - it can kill lower organisms quite effectively.
Natural abundance
Silver occurs native in ores such as argentite and horn silver, but the principal sources are lead, lead-zinc, copper, gold and copper-nickel ores. Poland and the USA are the main silver producers in the Western hemisphere. The metal is either recovered from the ore, or during the electrolytic refining of copper.
 
Atomic Data Terminology

Atomic radius/non -bonded (Å)
Based on Van der Waals forces (where several isotopes exist, a value is presented for the most prevalent isotope). These values were calculated using a multitude of methods including crystallographic data, gas kinetic collision cross sections, critical densities, liquid state properties,for more details please refer to the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics.


Electron affinity (kJ mol-1)
The energy released when an additional electron is attached to the neutral atom and a negative ion is formed (where several isotopes exist, a value is presented for the most prevalent isotope). *


Electronegativity (Pauling scale)
The degree to which an atom attracts electrons towards itself, expressed on a relative scale as a function bond dissociation energies, Ed in eV. χA - χB =(eV)-1/2sqrt(Ed(AB)-[Ed(AA)+Ed(BB)]/2), with χH set as 2.2 (where several isotopes exist, a value is presented for the most prevalent isotope).


1st Ionisation energy (kJ mol-1)
The minimum energy required to remove an electron from a neutral atom in its ground state (where several isotopes exist, a value is presented for the most prevalent isotope).


Covalent radius (Å)
The size of the atom within a covalent bond, given for typical oxidation number and coordination (where several isotopes exist, a value is presented for the most prevalent isotope). ***

Atomic Data

 
Atomic radius, non-bonded (Å) 2.110 Covalent radius (Å) 1.36
Electron affinity (kJ mol-1) 125.58 Electronegativity
(Pauling scale)
1.930
Ionisation energies
(kJ mol-1)
 
1st
730.992
2nd
2072.258
3rd
3360.582
4th
-
5th
-
6th
-
7th
-
8th
-
 

Mining/Sourcing Information

Data for this section of the data page has been provided by the British Geological Survey. To review the full report please click here or please look at their website here.


Key for numbers generated


Governance indicators

1 (low) = 0 to 2

2 (medium-low) = 3 to 4

3 (medium) = 5 to 6

4 (medium-high) = 7 to 8

5 (high) = 9


Reserve base distribution

1 (low) = 0 to 30 %

2 (medium-low) = 30 to 45 %

3 (medium) = 45 to 60 %

4 (medium-high) = 60 to 75 %

5 (high) = 75 %

(Where data are unavailable an arbitrary score of 2 was allocated. For example, Be, As, Na, S, In, Cl, Ca and Ge are allocated a score of 2 since reserve base information is unavailable. Reserve base data are also unavailable for coal; however, reserve data for 2008 are available from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).)


Production Concentration

1 (low) = 0 to 30 %

2 (medium-low) = 30 to 45 %

3 (medium) = 45 to 60 %

4 (medium-high) = 60 to 75 %

5 (high) = 75 %


Crustal Abundance

1 (low) = 100 to 1000 ppm

2 (medium-low) =10 to 100 ppm

3 (medium) = 1 to 10 ppm

4 (medium-high) = 0.1 to 1 ppm

5 (high) = 0.1 ppm

(Where data are unavailable an arbitrary score of 2 was allocated. For example, He is allocated a score of 2 since crustal abundance data is unavailable.)


Explanations for terminology


Crustal Abundance (ppm)

The abundance of an element in the Earth's crust in parts-per-million (ppm) i.e. The number of atoms of this element per 1 million atoms of crust.


Sourced

The country with the largest reserve base.


Reserve Base Distribution

This is a measure of the spread of future supplies, recording the percentage of a known resource likely to be available in the intermediate future (reserve base) located in the top three countries.


Production Concentrations

This reports the percentage of an element produced in the top three countries. The higher the value, the larger risk there is to supply.


Total Governance Factor

The World Bank produces a global percentile rank of political stability. The scoring system is given below, and the values for all three production countries were summed.


Relative Supply Risk Index

The Crustal Abundance, Reserve Base Distribution, Production Concentration and Governance Factor scores are summed and then divided by 2, to provide an overall Relative Supply Risk Index.

Supply Risk

 
Scarcity factor 6.0
Country with largest reserve base Poland
Crustal abundance (ppm) 0.055
Leading producer Peru
Reserve base distribution (%) 24.60
Production concentration (%) 17.40
Total governance factor(production) 9
Top 3 countries (mined)
  • 1) Poland
  • 2) China
  • 3) USA
Top 3 countries (production)
  • 1) Peru
  • 2) Mexico
  • 3) China
 

Oxidation states/ Isotopes


Key for Isotopes


Half Life
  y years
  d days
  h hours
  m minutes
  s seconds
Mode of decay
  α alpha particle emission
  β negative beta (electron) emission
  β+ positron emission
  EC orbital electron capture
  sf spontaneous fission
  ββ double beta emission
  ECEC double orbital electron capture

Terminology


Common Oxidation states
The oxidation state of an atom is a measure of the degree of oxidation of an atom. It is defined as being the charge that an atom would have if all bonds were ionic. Free atoms have an oxidation state of 0, and the sum of oxidation numbers within a substance must equal the overall charge.


Important Oxidation states
The most common oxidation states of an element in its compounds.


Isotopes
Elements are defined by the number of protons in its centre (nucleus), whilst the number of neutrons present can vary. The variations in the number of neutrons will create elements of different mass which are known as isotopes.

Oxidation States / Isotopes

 
Common oxidation states 2, 1
Isotopes Isotope Atomic mass Natural abundance (%) Half life Mode of decay
  107Ag 106.905 51.839
  109Ag 108.905 48.161
 

Pressure and Temperature - Advanced Terminology


Molar Heat Capacity (J mol-1 K-1)

Molar heat capacity is the energy required to heat a mole of a substance by 1 K.


Young's modulus (GPa)

Young's modulus is a measure of the stiffness of a substance, that is, it provides a measure of how difficult it is to extend a material, with a value given by the ratio of tensile strength to tensile strain.


Shear modulus (GPa)

The shear modulus of a material is a measure of how difficult it is to deform a material, and is given by the ratio of the shear stress to the shear strain.


Bulk modulus (GPa)

The bulk modulus is a measure of how difficult to compress a substance. Given by the ratio of the pressure on a body to the fractional decrease in volume.


Vapour Pressure (Pa)

Vapour pressure is the measure of the propensity of a substance to evaporate. It is defined as the equilibrium pressure exerted by the gas produced above a substance in a closed system.

Pressure / Temperature - Advanced

 
Molar heat capacity
(J mol-1 K-1)
25.35 Young's modulus (GPa) 82.7
Shear modulus (GPa) 30.3 Bulk modulus (GPa) 103.6
Vapour pressure  
Temperature (K)
400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 1800 2000 2200 2400
Pressure (Pa)
- - 1.27
x 10-7
6.03
x 10-4
0.17 7.61 131 - - - -
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History

Slag heaps near ancient mine workings in Turkey and Greece prove that silver mining started around 3000 BC. The metal was refined by cupellation, a process invented by the Chaldeans, who lived in what is now southern Iraq. It consisted of heating the molten metal in a shallow cup over which blew a strong draft of air. This oxidised the other metals, such as lead and copper, leaving only silver unaffected.


The rise of Athens was made possible partly through the exploitation of local silver mines at Laurium. These operated from 600 BC and right through the Roman era. In Medieval times, German mines became the main source of silver in Europe.


Silver was also mined by the ancient civilizations of Central and South America there being rich deposits in Peru, Bolivia and Mexico.

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Podcasts

Listen to Silver Podcast
Transcript :

Chemistry in Its Element - Silver


(Promo)

 

You're listening to Chemistry in its element brought to you by Chemistry World, the magazine of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

 

(End promo)

 

Chris Smith

Hello! Welcome to Chemistry in its element. This week, we're demystifying the element behind the photograph and to cross your cognitive palm with Silver, here's Victoria Gill.

 

Victoria Gill

Its lustre shine has been coveted since ancient times. It's not just rare or precious, as its more expensive cousin, Gold, but there is evidence from as early as 3000 BC that humans extracted Silver from naturally occurring Silver sulphide deposits in rocks to make coins and jewellery. These coins actually form the basis for the economies of some ancient Mediterranean civilizations. It's a soft and pliable metal with a relatively low melting point and that means it can be hammered and moulded into shape, so the same metal that was used to make money that was gradually outdated could also be transformed into vases, platters, cutlery and goblets; tableware that has created displays of household wealth through the centuries. But a gleaming collection of Silverware isn't easy to maintain. The metal reacts with sulphur in the air, rapidly forming a dull, dark Silver sulphide tarnish that has to be polished off. So it's a high maintenance element; another reason why it has always been outshone by Gold. But the same chemical properties that tarnished its image let it to make another mark in history, by allowing history itself to be recorded in the photograph. 

 

In 1727, a German physicist called Johann Heinrich Schulze found that a paste of chalk and Silver nitrate salt was blackened by light. He used stencils to produce black images with the paste. This reaction, the dawn of photography, was all thanks to the fact that Silver salts are sensitive to light. A photon of light hitting the negative nitrate anion frees an electron, which ultimately combines with the positive Silver ions to make neutral Silver metal, darkening the surface of the material. When in 1840, Henry Talbot discovered an additional chemical twist, that is so called latent Silver image, that had been briefly exposed onto a layer of Silver iodide could be revealed using Gallic acid, the effect was seen as magical, a devilish art. But this mystical development of an invisible picture was a simple reduction reaction; the Gallic acid helping to reduce photosensitized Silver ions into Silver metal. Hollywood could never have existed without the chemical reaction that gave celluloid film its ability to capture the stars and bring them to the aptly dubbed Silver screen. 

 

Digital photography may now have eclipsed the Silver image, but the metal's ability to conduct has given it an important role in the digital age. Silver is used on circuit boards and in batteries, where the conduction speed is needed that Copper for example, can't quite deliver. Even its most outdated properties are making resurgence. With new antibiotics running thin, a few researchers are returning to Silver as a coating to keep the bugs at bay. Silver metal is toxic to nasty bacteria, but not to us and there is even a tiny amount of it in our bodies, but that's yet to give up the secret of why it's there. For me, rather superficially, it's always been Gold's subtler, prettier counterpart.

 

Chris Smith

Victoria Gill uncovering the secrets of the element that gave us the Silver screen. Next time on Chemistry in its element, John Emsley introduces a chemical that's mostly fallen from favour, perhaps with good reason. 

 

John Emsley 

This trouble-making element has attacked the ozone layer, and its mere presence has caused entire reservoirs to be drained.

 

Chris Smith

And you can hear John Emsley telling the story of the brown element, Bromine, on next week's Chemistry in its element. I'm Chris Smith, thank you for listening.   See you next time.

 

(Promo)

 

Chemistry in its elementis brought to you by the Royal Society of Chemistry and produced by thenakedscientists dot com. There's more information and other episodes of Chemistry in its element on our web site at chemistryworld dot org forward slash elements.

 

(End promo)

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Resources

Description :
Discover the chemistry and history behind the Gold, Silver and Bronze Olympic medals.
Description :
The halogens are elements of Group 7 of the Periodic table. This experiment illustrates some of the trends and similarities within the compounds of this group.
Description :
In this experiment you will be looking at the properties of silver compounds.
Description :
An introduction to copper refining
Description :
Assessment for Learning is an effective way of actively involving students in their learning. This is a series of plans based around chemistry topics.
Description :
When concentrated hydrochloric acid is added to a very dilute solution of copper sulfate, the pale blue solution slowly turns yellow-green on the formation of a copper chloride complex. When concentr...
 

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References

 
Images:  Visual Elements © Murray Robertson 2011
Mining and Sourcing data:  British Geological Survey – natural environment research council.
Text:  John Emsley Nature’s Building Blocks: An A-Z Guide to the Elements, Oxford University Press, 2nd Edition, 2011.
Additional information for platinum, gold, neodymium and dysprosium obtained from Material Value Consultancy Ltd www.matvalue.com
Data: CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, CRC Press, 92nd Edition, 2011.
G. W. C. Kaye and T. H. Laby Tables of Physical and Chemical Constants, Longman, 16th Edition, 1995.
Members of the RSC can access these books through our library.