Many things are made of silver, including utensils, jewelry, various currencies, solar panels, dental fillings, wound dressings and even food coloring. While silver has a long history as a precious metal used for money, it has more recently been used for a wide variety of industrial applications.
There is evidence of people extracting silver as far back as 3000 B.C. in present-day Turkey and the Aegean Islands. The Roman Empire mined its silver from present-day Spain while Germany, Austria and Hungary provided much of the silver for medieval European societies. However, it wasn't until the discovery of silver in the New World in places like Peru, Mexico and Bolivia that silver became relatively common.
Silver today is used in a number of fields and technologies. Silver is an essential element of photovoltaic solar panels, and concentrated solar power reflectors use it as reflective coating. It's also found in insulated glazing for windows and in mirrors, especially those found in reflective telescopes. Additionally, silver's conductivity makes it valuable for the production of various electronics.
Because of the catalytic action of silver when exposed to oxygen, the material is also used as an antimicrobial. Silver in water filters hinders algae and bacterial growth, and it is used in everything from clothing to hospital equipment to prevent growth.