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Silver is a metallic chemical element with the chemical symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal. The metal occurs naturally in its pure, free form (native silver), as an alloy with gold and other metals, and in minerals such as argentite and chlorargyrite. Most silver is produced as a byproduct of Copper, Gold, Lead, and Zinc refining.

Silver has long been valued as a precious metal, and it is used to make ornaments, jewelry, high-value tableware, utensils, and currency coins. It is also used in electrical contacts and conductors, in mirrors and in catalysis of chemical reactions. Its compounds have been used in photographic film, and dilute silver nitrate solutions and other silver compounds have been used as disinfectants and microbiocides.

Silver is a very ductile, malleable (slightly harder than gold), monovalent coinage metal, with a brilliant white metallic luster that can take a high degree of polish. It has the highest electrical conductivity of all metals, even higher than copper.

Among metals, pure silver has the highest thermal conductivity (the nonmetal diamond and superfluid helium II are higher) and one of the highest optical reflectivities. (Aluminium slightly outdoes silver in parts of the visible spectrum, and silver is a poor reflector of ultraviolet light). Silver also has the lowest contact resistance of any metal. Silver halides are photosensitive and are remarkable for their ability to record a latent image that can later be developed chemically. Silver is stable in pure air and water, but tarnishes when it is exposed to air or water containing ozone or hydrogen sulfide, the latter forming a black layer of silver sulfide which can be cleaned off with dilute hydrochloric acid. The most common oxidation state of silver is +1 (for example, silver nitrate: AgNO3); in addition, +2 compounds (for example, silver(II) fluoride: AgF2) and the less common +3 compounds (for example, potassium tetrafluoroargentate: K[AgF4] ) are known.


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