Why is science becoming so excited by silver nanoparticles?
Nanoparticles were one of those words that nobody had heard of a couple of years ago. Little by little, we have come to realize how much these things are used in our day-to-day lives. From washing powder to toothpaste – tiny plastic particles are used as abrasives and cleaners in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Something very few people have come across, so far, are silver nanoparticles.
The ongoing research into the uses and applications for this material has been going on for years – but it is only recently that this science has been put to practical use. Today I’m just going to briefly cover an area where silver nanoparticles are making a huge impact for such tiny specks of metal. There is a growing interest in using the optical properties of silver nanoparticles in all kinds of sensors. Silver nanoparticles are very efficient at absorbing and scattering light.
This makes them better than dyes and pigments for many applications. For instance, a dye is a specific color all the time whereas a silver particle can become another color depending on its size and shape.
This means that a sheet of particles can absorb light in different ways to create a whole range of colors using just one material. In scientific terms, this is known as surface plasmon resonance. In practical terms, this has applications for printing – especially 3D printing, publishing – and experiments are even going on with paints and varnishes. It is not just the optical wavelengths which interest the scientists. By using rod or plate shapes the colors can shift into the infrared spectrum too.
This has applications for scientific instruments like microscopes, satellite technology and even commercial optical instruments like binoculars and telescopes. Silver has been around for a long time – but scientists are only just discovering many of its incredible properties.
Going forward – silver makes sense as a long-term store of value. As more and more applications are found for it, demand will soar. Discover more about investing in silver by calling one of our advisers at Noble gold.