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Rebounding Demand for Silver in Photography and Other Silver News

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The photography industry was once one of the biggest consumers of silver. With the advent of digital photography and cell phone cameras, the use of film gradually declined. But there has been a revival in film and the use of silver in photography increased last year.

This is one of several silver-related stories in the latest edition of Silver News published by the Silver Institute.

The slow decline in the use of silver in photography began in the late 1990s. But as we’ve seen with vinyl records, old technology does not always die and sometimes enjoys a revival. This appears to be the case with film photography. According to the Silver Institute, the use of silver in photography increased by 3% last year.

Additional labs are starting and restarting film processing lines despite the challenge of finding equipment. Also, hobbyists continue to process and print films in home darkrooms, as they have for decades. And, somewhat surprisingly, young consumers are increasingly taking instant pictures, quickly producing prints. This has spurred a revived interest among hobbyists and professionals to shoot silver-based film.”

Traditional x-ray film is still used in many industries and in the medical field, primarily because it is extremely difficult to alter the image. Last year also saw a rebound in x-ray use. This was a big factor in the increase in the overall consumption of photographic silver.

The latest edition of Silver News also highlights some other fascinating technological advances utilizing the white metal, along with some developments in the silver market. Here are some highlights.

  • Coating body implants with silver nanoparticles to combat infection has become commonplace. One challenge has been to keep the particles on the implant and to prevent them from leaching out into the patient. A new approach is under study by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who say they have developed a method to coat polymers that keeps the nanoparticles intact.
  • The Perth Mint has released a new silver bullion coin featuring Australia’s wild dog, the dingo. The .9999 silver coins come in two-dollar (62.2-gram, 75,000 mintage) and 10-dollar (311-gram, 2,500 mintage) denominations.
  • Scientists at Sichuan University in Chengdu and Tsinghua University in Beijing have invented an inexpensive and quick test for COVID-19 and its variants that changes the color of special paper when the disease is detected. The test uses silver ions to detect an enzyme released by viral cells.
  • Drought conditions in many areas are placing additional strains on crops by lowering their resistance to diseases, insects, fungi and other microbes, but silver is helping to bolster the immune systems of these plants.
  • The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded a University of Virginia engineering professor a $250,000 grant to study better ways to extract silver from old solar panels for recycling into new solar panels or for use in other industrial applications.

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