Saturday, April 1, 2017

Super-strong, Stretchy Silver

Professor of mechanical engineering Frederic Sansoz shows how atoms of silver are arranged. He’s part of a team of scientists that has discovered that silver wires, between about 10 and 40 nanometers wide, have an amazing combination of super-strength and stretchiness. The new research uncovered a weird state of matter in silver—that may have many technological uses. Image Credit: Joshua Brown

Try bending your iPhone in half. Or roll up your tablet like a scroll. Or wrap a touchscreen TV around a pole. Didn't work out so well, did it? That's because the ceramic material used to make many of today's touchscreens has only two of three needed qualities: it's conductive, it's transparent—but it's not flexible.

"It's brittle and so if you bend it, it breaks," says University of Vermont scientist Frederic Sansoz, a professor of mechanical engineering.
But Sansoz and a team of other scientists have made a discovery that may change that. Working with silver at a vanishingly small scale—nanowires just a few hundred atoms thick—they discovered that they could make wires that were both super strong "and stretchy like gum," he says.
This kind of silver  could be fashioned into a mesh that conducts current, allows light to shine through—and bends so easily "you might be able to tie your smartphone into a knot," he says.
Or, as they write in their study, "we report unusual room-temperature super-elongation without softening in face-centered-cubic silver nanocrystals."
The team's results were published in the April issue of the journal Nature
Small is stronger
UVM's Sansoz, his collaborator Scott Mao at the University of Pittsburgh, and their colleagues have led pioneering research on how to transform soft metals, including gold, into super-strong wires at the nanoscale. It's part of a growing area of research that shows that as materials are engineered to be smaller and smaller it's possible to eliminate many defects at the atomic scale. "And this makes them much stronger," he says, "generally, smaller is stronger."
But there's a problem. "As you make them stronger, they become brittle. It's chewing gum versus window glass," Sansoz says.
Which is why he was very surprised by what the team discovered about silver.
As wires of silver are made smaller and smaller, down to about 40 nanometers, they follow the expected trend: they get relatively stronger and more brittle. But earlier research by other scientists had shown that at even-more-extreme smallness—below 10 nanometers—silver does something weird. "It behaves like a Jello gelatin dessert," Sansoz say. "It becomes very soft when compressed, has very little strength, and slowly returns to its original shape."
Materials scientists hypothesize this happens because the crystals of silver are so small that most of their atoms are at the surface, with very few interior atoms. This allows diffusion of  from the surface to dominate the behavior of the metal instead of the cracking and slipping of organized lattices of atoms within. This causes these tiniest, but solid, silver crystals to have liquid-like behavior even at room temperature.
"So our question was: what's happening in the gap between 10 nanometers and 40 nanometers?" says Sansoz. "This is the first study to look at this range of diameters of nanowires."
Mind the gap
What the team of scientists found in the gap—using both an electron microscope and atomistic models on a supercomputer—is that "the two mechanisms coexist at the same time," Sansoz says. This gives silver wires in that little-explored zone both the strength of the "smaller-is-stronger" principle with the liquid-like weirdness of their smaller cousins. At this Goldilocks-like size, when defects form at the surface of the wire as it's pulled apart, "then diffusion comes in and heals the defect," Sansoz says. "So it just stretches and stretches and stretches—elongating up to two hundred percent."
There has been remarkable progress since 2010 in applying silver nanowires in electronics, Sansoz says, including conductive electrodes for touchscreen displays. And some companies are working hard to apply these wires to creating cost-effective flexible screens. "But, right now, they're manufacturing totally in the dark," Sansoz says. "They don't know what size wire is best." His new discovery should give chemists and industrial engineers a target size for creating  wires that could lead to the first foldable phones.
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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Silver's Moving Up & Leading the Way in this Precious Metals Bull Market

Good opportunity to Buy on the Dip

The recent pullback has seen silver retreat around 10% from its high earlier in 2017 presenting a good opportunity to average down or purchase more at a lower price level in the short term.

1 - 5 Year Outlook for Silver:

Strong fundamentals with a positive long-term outlook of Silver & precious metals, in general, remain intact despite the recent retreat in spot price & futures markets with macro commodities prices & major producers share prices likely responsible for dragging down the entire sector

The recent price rallies in base metals has seen a commodity sector revival with hot material metals such as Lithium and most recently cobalt attracting investment equity.

With US spot silver at under $18 there is minimal downside risk with a robust & ongoing industrial and jewellery demand and with silver being the metal with more patented applications than all other metals combined*, yet the upside on paper at least with silver breaching $50.00 in 2008 and with continuous global monetary stimulus and the rise of Brazil, Russia, China and India all of whom are anticipated to demand the low cost white metal and increase aggregate demand.

The above chart from 2000 through to present shows just how much upside silver has from this level wherein the short a one year time frame $30 is not unrealistic, sustained increased demand should see a robust price and a move up to a level above $20 US in the short term, an adjustment in the Chinese Yuan & other US trade partners would see increased demand as the purchasing power of these trade partner currencies increase also having the effect increasing competition for the finite resource with increasing applications and human demand by the day. The question then becomes - can supply keep up? Any supply reduction could easily trigger a run on physical which will trickle up to the Commodities Futures Exchange Markets with Silver Contracts being purchased with the intention of taking delivery.   

The Gold Silver ratio

Much attention is paid to the gold/silver ratio by industry insiders and gold silver bulls (and bears for that matter) and it is said that during a precious metals bull run Silver leads the way and will overperform vs gold as it takes less demand and equity to push the price up when the market turns.

Today's ratio of 70:1 is closer to the maximum variance of 83:1 indicating 
we have moved off the short-term low and will now move up with the likelihood of ending the cycle under the 10 year low of the cycle previous cycle

The Trump Card: Effect On Silver...

Donald Trump has spoken explicitly about wanting to end currency manipulation specifically addressing trade partners China and Japan and expressing a need for the United States to weaken its dollar to support its manufacturing base and exports for the purpose of improving the balance of trade. There are a number of factors reducing the likelihood of this eventuating and increasing the likelihood of this being rhetoric rather than a serious new economic course the US is set to embark on such due to any such fiscal policy change adversely affecting the economy as the current debt to overseas governments and private banks & a decrease in consumer purchasing power for imported goods.

The TRUMP card, what effect will Donald Trumps Presidency have on the price of Silver
On the surface a weakening US dollar would serve the purpose of increasing all imported goods including commodities overall and silver specifically, another key change is servicing the overseas debt and a weakening dollar would require more dollars to pay the same fixed debt payments putting the US economy under more pressure and requiring money to be diverted from other sectors or by issuing more currency through quantitative stimulus which will add velocity to the money supply which is necessarily inflationary (the combination of a weaker dollar and inflation will be a thorn in the side of US citizens acting as a double whammy of decreased purchasing power and increasing costs for goods and services).

For the US to engage in a successful devaluation, global trade partners must lock fiscal and monetary policies to allow this currency re-evaluation, as all reserve banks can inflate away at their desire also  any talk of currency manipulation was likely just lip service to the US manufacturing base to rally support during the presidential race, in the meta we understand this to be currency wars 3.0.

Write-up by Joseph Gale, Charts from Kitco

#silver #investment #goldsilver #josephgale #metals

These Factors Have Been Driving Silver Prices

Compared to gold, silver is the more volatile precious metal. The overall sentiment in the market for silver is positive, as it recently crossed the 50-day, 100-day, and 200-day moving averages.
Silver has performed slightly better than gold and platinum on a year-to-date basis. Silver had a year-to-date gain of 8.8%, while gold and platinum have risen 7% and 7.4%, respectively, as of March 20. Palladium, however, has outperformed the other three metals with a rise of 14.7% during the same timeframe.

Precious and industrial metals

The fluctuations in the price of silver since 2015 are shown in the above chart. As silver is considered both an industrial as well as a precious metal, the rises and falls in its price are dependent on many global indicators.
When Brexit concerns surfaced in mid-2016, the haven bids caused silver to rise. Similarly, after Trump won the US election, the haven bids impacted the metal. The increase in the interest rate on Treasuries caused non-yield-bearing assets like gold and silver to suffer. In a similar fashion, the overall industrial market performance can also impact silver, as silver is frequently used as an industrial metal.

Silver funds and miners

The fluctuations in silver prices are evident in the iShares Silver Trust (SLV) and the Silver Trust ETF (SIVR). These two funds have risen 9.2% each due to the rise in silver prices.
Silver mining stocks like Hecla Mining (HL), Coeur Mining (CDE), Pan American Silver (PAAS), and Silver Wheaton (SLW) have fallen over the past month due to the fall in silver prices.
Later in this series, we’ll look at the performance of silver miners along with technical details.
View Source of article by Market Realist