Chemists at the University of Toledo in Ohio and Xiamen University in China have reportedly developed similar methods for creating silver nanoparticles that may be even more stable than their gold counterparts. The findings have been published in the scientific research journals, Nature and Nature Communications, respectively.

Both teams were apparently looking for a way to create silver nanoparticles to use in place of the more expensive gold ones, which are widely used in the cosmetic industry because of their ability to reflect light, act as preservatives and deliver active ingredients deep into the skin. Silver, while more abundant and less expensive than gold, is sensitive to oxidation, which evidently makes it unstable and thus unsuitable for many applications.

To manufacture the nanoparticles, the scientists created a mixture that combined silver atoms with organic molecules that formed an outer protective layer and sulphur atoms that bridged the two. The result was a silver nanoparticle that appears to be as impervious to oxidation as gold nanoparticles, produced at a significantly reduced cost. The scientists reported that key details still need to be addressed, such as whether or not the nanoparticles will be stable in the human body. nature.com, September 4, 2013; BBC News, September 6, 2013.