In electronics, silver is also widely used. Uses include silk-screened circuit paths, membrane switches, electrically heated automobile windows, and conductive adhesives. Every time a home owner turns on a microwave oven, dishwasher, clothes washer, or television set, the action activates a switch with silver contacts that completes the required electrical circuit. The majority of the keyboards of desk-top and lap-top computers use silver membrane switches. These are found behind the buttons of control panels for cable television, telephones, microwave ovens, learning toys like touch and tell or speak and spell, and the keyboards of typewriters and computers. The low-current capacity of the membrane switch matches the low electrical current used for digital electronics. In an office environment, membrane switches are normally rated for a life of 20 million cycles. Typically, the membrane switch is made of a conductive ink of silver flakes in a polyester binder with carbon. This thick film is then silk-screened in an electrical circuit pattern onto each of two Mylar sheets. The two surface patterns of silver face each other close enough so that gentle touch by a finger will make the electrical contact. A latching transistor circuit is simultaneously activated to keep the circuit closed after the membrane is released. Today's electrical appliances, such as microwave ovens, are controlled by membrane switch panels, where the contacts are silver. Membrane switch panels are found in automobiles and under the keys of personal computers.
The use of silvered windshields in General Motor's all purpose vehicles reflects away some 70% of the solar energy that would otherwise enter the car, reducing the load on air conditioners in summer.
A universal safety feature of every automobile produced in America, and most throughout the world, is the silver-ceramic lines fired into the rear window. The heat generated by these conductive paths is sufficient to clear the rear window of frost and ice.
Printed circuit boards (PCBs) use silver in two ways: in solders for surface mounted components (see Brazing and Soldering) and for connecting paths of electronic circuitry. Epoxy resin/silver formulations provide very low viscosity (important in filling holes connecting components) and higher silver content than is possible with other resins. Furthermore, silver-filled resins provide higher conductivity than copper systems, allowing smaller volume conductors and as well do not allow silver to migrate under any condition, which is not true of many other resin
Du Pont’s laboratory studies have shown silver-epoxy thick films to provide a conductive network of extended reliability, higher conductivity, improved solderability, and more rapid assembly over other metal formulations. And silver particulate fillers provide superior long-term performance in polymer thick films. Copper, for example, is often unstable and deteriorates with age. The critical importance of printed circuitry boards in the electronics industry is shown by the value of monolithic integrated circuits. Printed circuit boards are essential to the electronics that control the
operation of aircraft, automobile engines, electrical appliances, security systems, telecommunication networks, mobile telephones, television receivers, etc. Giant magnetoresistance is a newly discovered magnetic property of multiple layered silver/nickel-iron alloy films, each about a millionth of an inch thick. These films are being exploited by computer hard drive manufacturers. The films are potential candidates for the next generation of read-out heads for personal computer storage systems. Not only do these new silver alloys exhibit extremely high changes in electrical resistance in response to infinitesimally small magnetic signals (hence the term giant magnetoresistance) but importantly the films maintain their physical dimensions unchanged despite the rapidly changing magnetic fields.
Elsewhere, the combination of giant magnetoresistance with zero changes in dimension in magnetostriction during recording head operations means that there is no unwanted shift in the optimal sensing function of the read head held over the spinning magnetic field of a personal computer's hard drive. By avoiding dimensional changes during head operations, unwanted magnetic fields generated by the recording head are eliminated. This results in improved fidelity in the playback of data, music, and video recordings, and larger storage capacity. Also eliminated is the expansion/contraction of the head that would limit its useful life