How To Grow Silver Crystals

This is a photo of a crystal of pure silver metal, deposited electrolytically.
Alchemist-hp/Creative Commons License

Silver crystals are beautiful and easily grown metal crystals. You can watch crystal growth under a microscope or let the crystals grow overnight for larger crystals.

Directions

  1. Suspend a piece of copper wire in 0.1M silver nitrate in a test tube. If you coil the wire you will get high surface area and more visible growth.
  2. Place the tube in a darkened location. Try to avoid high-traffic (high-vibration) areas.
  1. Crystals should be visible to the naked eye on the copper wire after about an hour, but larger crystals and noticeable blue coloration of liquid will occur overnight.
  2. OR
  3. Place a drop of mercury in a test tube and add 5-10 ml 0.1M silver nitrate.
  4. Allow the tube to stand undisturbed in a dark location for 1-2 days. Crystals will grow on the surface of the mercury.

Tips

  1. It is easy to watch crystals form on a copper wire under a microscope. The heat of the microscope light will cause crystals to form very quickly.
  2. A displacement reaction is responsible for crystal formation: 2Ag+ + Cu → Cu2+ + 2Ag

Materials Needed

  • 0.1M Silver Nitrate
  • Test Tube
  • Copper Wire or Mercury