Grow Silver Metal Crystals by Electrochemistry

Grow Silver Metal Crystals by Electrochemistry

Greetings fellow nerds.
In this video, we’re going to grow tiny crystals of silver metal under the microscope.
We’re going to grow the crystals by electrochemistry. The setup is actually very simple.
I’ve tapped down an aluminum wire cathode and a silver wire anode to this plastic tray.
It’s connected to these batteries through a 470 ohm resistor to limit the current.
Now the electrolyte is a saturated solution of silver nitrate that i’m applying between
the electrodes. I don’t need very much since we’re going to
be doing this under the microscope. Now to slow down evaporation i’m putting this
glass slide over the drop. This also has the advantage of making the
surface shape flat and allowing us to easily keep focus under the microscope.
Okay, let me take it to the microscope. The deposition occurs on the cathode or negative
terminal so that’s where we’ll focus our attention. I haven’t connected the battery and resistor
yet so that gives me time to do so. Now, first we’ll look at highest magnification
at the tip. Let me connect the power through the resistor…
and look at that! Those are microscopic crystals of silver metal
growing at the tip of the aluminum wire. I’m actually time-lapsing this as the growth
is actually very slow and is occurring over the course of three hours.
As it progresses you’ll notice the crystals getting all deformed and no longer looking
like perfect crystals. Two things are causing this, first the crystals
are hitting the glass cover. Second, growing crystals electrically is not
an even process since the parts with highest charge density grow fastest.
Since charge density is not uniform for an irregularly shaped object, crystal deformation
is really hard to avoid. Nonetheless, the time-lapsed results are still
spectacular. Let’s try that again.
This one i filmed over the course of ten hours and under time-lapse you’ll see a lot of things
happening around it as it grows. This is actually me fighting off various side
effects like bubbles forming and the solution crusting over every hour,
forcing me to keep removing and cleaning the slide.
Every time i did so i disturbed the crystal growth and thus it became even more deformed.
Nonetheless, We’re still seeing actual pure silver metal electrically crystallizing out
of solution. Not a salt or metal ion, actual raw metal.
This is not something most of us will ever see in our lifetime.
So what’s happening is that at the anode, which is not on screen,
the silver metal is dissolving and releasing silver ions into solution.
At the cathode the silver ions are electrodepositing on to the aluminum wire form silver metal.
It’s a very simple reaction, but its quite amazing when you have a microscope to see
it. I’m using an aluminum metal wire as the cathode
simply because I didn’t have another silver metal wire available.
Here i tried it again using a diluted silver nitrate solution.
Since its not saturated it doesn’t crust over as quickly or produces as many bubbles,
letting me film longer without disturbing the growth.
But as you can see, instead of hard crystal edges,
the dilute silver nitrate grows a more feathery appearance of many smaller crystals.
Kinda looks like I’m growing a silver tree. A microscopic one.
Now so far I’ve been limiting the current with a resistor to get slow and controlled
growth. Now i’m going to apply the voltage directly
to the electrodes. Ready, go.
That is not time-lapsed, that growth is actually happening in real time with the much higher
current. The solution doesn’t have time to diffuse
in and form large crystals so instead the crystals grow outward in branches
composed of many smaller crystals. OK I’ve stopped the current. These branches
are actually quite fragile and will easily fall apart.
Now I’m putting the resistor in and going with slow growth while time-lapsing the video.
You can see the branches get thicker as now the solution has time to diffuse in and deposit
the silver more evenly. But you’ll notice the tips are growing faster
than the stems. This is because the charge density is greater
at the tips. Let’s try that again.
This time I’m going to use that large silver crystal hunk we grew slowly a few runs back.
Let me prepare the slide and get everything into position.
I’m also using saturated silver nitrate solution for this particular run.
I’m going to apply the current… now. Whoa, that was different.
Look at that, we got a few things happening here.
OK I’ve turned off the current, let’s examine our handy work.
Look at that, these branches are composed of different sized crystals, but mostly cleanly
formed. Back here at the base the original crystal
hunk is now coated in a fine layer of small crystals, kinda like frosting.
Looking around here… oh look at that, looks like some kind of silver metal plant.
I betcha some sci-fi filmmakers are getting ideas for an alien world from this.
Anyway, I hope ya liked this simple experiment into the microscopic beauty of electrochemistry.
Thank you very much for watching. Please subscribe, like and comment.


  1. why does he keep saying its microscopic…if you would do this for a few days straight wouldn't it eventually grow to the size of a quarter or so?? I'm not trying to be a smart ass just trying to see if anyone knows.

  2. I've only seen 3 videos from this guy so far. Is there any particular reason he uses a filter for his voice other than to hide his identity for some reason.

  3. It's really nice to see, I like. Indeed most people don't have the requiered equipement… so thanks for sharing your video, it's great.
    Crystals of any materials are always beautiful to look : )

  4. This video is rather old but I am curious if I can use solder to form the crystals. Yes, solder for wires and what not. It generally has tin, silver, copper and other metals in it. As such, would this work? (I don't see why it wouldn't, but I am not a chemist)

  5. أخي العزيز ممكن تعطيني صور لذرات الذهب تحت المكرسكوب  كيف يكون شكلها وفقك الله الى كل خير

  6. Dear brother give me a picture as possible of the gold atoms under Almkrscop how to be formed by God and enabled you to all the best

  7. I've always wanted to watch one of these timelapsed for sometjing like say, copper refining where you have impire copper and use electrical separation to remove the impurities, just a timelapsed reduction of the anode.

  8. now I just got to get a whole of these stuff, grow it in my lab(moms basement) and sale it on the black market and make millions !muahahaha!

  9. Taking by your comment of "this is actually silver metal" that the steps involved to go from scrap silver to refine it to make it into powder is a completely different approach….
    I wanted to know how to make silver powder (like you did on the gold video). Is it possible??

    Thanks in advance

    Nice video!

  10. I'm sure that these are the same things God says when he makes things. "Wow, look at that – isn't it amazing!"

    Thank you for showing how incredible even very small things can be.

  11. In a way, the crystals are following the maximum charge density not just through the existing crystals, but also the solution. As it a result, the crystals look like solid silver lightning bolts.

  12. Hi, I have a little question. Why did you use 4 batteries in serial connection? All in all, you were using resistor to decrease current /voltage in an "electrolyser". Seems like a waste of batteries to me :/ It would make more sense in parallel connection – voltage remains at 1,5V, but the capacity sums up.

  13. This is really amazing and beautiful. I have some silver plate pieces which need some plating in areas and I was thinking of making some silver to hopefully replate it myself.Do you have any recommendations as to how I can do this? I just subscribed to your channel too. Thanks for making this video.

  14. This is really cool. You should try this with different amperages to see how it structurally changes (i.e. a sawtooth wave at varying pulse widths). What microscope / objective are you using ? Do you have access to a SEM to capture the lattice?

  15. can you do the same for gold using gold chloride? how many grams of silver did you make compared to the amount it cost you to buy the silver nitrate? if i do this i want to make profit!

  16. Can you imagine what some NWO lab has and is making, they or only wire the size of telephone poles and make silver and gold by the ton

  17. Too all the people asking if you could do the same with gold: no, there is no chemical that will do this with gold, it is just too dense, also this isn't making silver, it is just crystalyzing it

  18. Hook the electrodes to the output of an audio amplifier and play music through the solution. I wonder if the crystals move/grow/shrink to the music, LOL.

  19. Who need Netflix or HBO, if we can see this beautiful experiments in YouTube and also enrich our scientific culture ?. Haha. Great Channel.

  20. ………. What if you crystallised in molten pressurized silver nitrate instead of a solution and suspend the anode and cathode so there is no resistance in the crystal growth

  21. I'm actually running a silver refining cell, using a the same method. I heard adding copper nitrate will make larger crystals grow. Seems to be true because as my solution gets more copper nitrate in it from the impure silver, the crystals seem to be growing larger and less spindley.

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