Silver (symbol: Ag atomic number: 47) has been known since ancient times. Slag dumps in Asia Minor and on islands in the Aegean Sea indicate that man learned to separate silver from lead as early as 3000 B.C. Silver occurs native and in ores such as Ag2S (argenite) and AgCl (horn silver); lead, copper, gold, and copper-nickel ores are principal sources. Silver is also recovered during electrolytic refining of copper. Commercial fine silver contains at least 99.9% silver. Pure silver has a brilliant white metallic luster. It is a little harder than gold and is very ductile and malleable, being exceeded only by gold. Pure silver has the highest electrical and thermal conductivity of all metals, and possesses the lowest contact resistance. Silver is used for dental alloys. Silver is used in making solder and brazing alloys, electrical contacts, and high capacity silver-zinc and silver-cadmium batteries. Silver paints are used for making printed circuits. Silver nitrate, the most important silver compound, is used extensively in photography. Traditionally, silver has for centuries been used for coinage.
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