A team from the University of Illinois have come up with an easily made and applied silver ink that has a conductivity equal to that of bulk silver.
Not only that, the ink is storable and can be used for high performance electrical circuits for use in even thinner, wearable gadgets as well as flexible screens. This has the potential to significantly increase demand for silver.
The work, which has been published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ja209267c), was conducted by Jennifer Lewis, Hans Thurnauer professor of materials science and engineering, and Jennifer Bernhard, a professor of electrical and computer engineering.
According to TechWeekEurope (http://www.techweekeurope.co.uk/news/silver-ink-solution-for-cheaper-faster-flexible-circuits-54967), silver acetate is dissolved in ammonia to create a clear solution rather than a particle based ink, which makes it more predictable in use.
It can also be used in very fine print nozzles and it can even be applied by pen.
Team member Brett Walker is quoted in TechWeekEurope as saying "For printed electronics applications, you need to be able to store the ink for several months because silver is expensive. Since silver particles don't actually form until the ink exits the nozzle and the ammonia evaporates, our ink remains stable for very long periods. For fine-scale nozzle printing, that's a rarity."
"We are now focused on patterning large-area transparent conductive surfaces using this reactive ink." he added.
There are plenty of markets for this new ink. "The use of the ink to create mobile phone aerials could greatly enhance reception in lower signal areas and there are also applications for RFID technology. Flexible connectors are also of use for batteries, sensors, and solar energy arrays." Says TechWeekEurope.
This could in time open up a huge market and make silver, especially physical as opposed to ETFs, even more attractive to investors.