Silver, like gold, is an element that is used in jewelry, coins, dentistry, and electronic devices. Silver has been used also to kill bacteria, for example, by preventing infection in wounds before antibiotics were developed. As with all metals, silver has good electrical and thermal conductivity.
Silver nanoparticles have a large percentage of atoms at the surface and are useful for killing bacteria. Nanoparticles of silver have more silver ions on the surface and are therefore being used as an antimicrobial agent in several ways, including:
As an antimicrobial agent for the treatment of wounds in crystalline form
Embedded in plastic food storage bins to kill bacteria from any food previously stored in the bins
Destroying odors caused by microorganisms in the form of microbes that can’t live around silver ions
To make a low-cost filter from carbon nanotubes and silver nanowires to kill bacteria in drinking water
Excerpted from Nanotechnology For Dummies (2nd edition), from Wiley Publishing