• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The metals used in the creation of computers

Extracts from this document...


Despite modern day computers being incredibly complex machines, capable of completing an increasingly large assortment of computations at once, computers are made of three simple materials: silicon, copper and plastics. This report will specify what exactly each material is, where the material is obtained, how the material is processed and why each material is used in the creation of computers. The most vital component used in the manufacturing of computers is silicon. Over 90% of the Earth's crust is composed of silicate minerals, making silicon the “second most abundant element in the earth's crust” after oxygen. Silica occurs in minerals consisting of very pure silicon dioxide in crystalline forms including agate, quartz, flint, jasper and opal. To extract and process the element silicon from the silica, it must be reduced (have the oxygen removed from it). This is accomplished by heating a mixture of silica and carbon in an electric arc furnace to a temperature in excess of 2,000°C. ...read more.


and oxygen in a furnace. The copper ions in the ore are reduced to copper sulphide (which is reduced further to copper metal in the final stage). The copper sulphide produced is converted to copper with a large blast of air. The end product of this is called blister copper - a porous, brittle form of copper, about 98 - 99.5% pure. The copper is then processed by being treated to remove any remaining sulphur (trapped as bubbles of sulphur dioxide in the copper - hence blister copper) and then cast into anodes for refining using electrolysis. Electrolysis is the process ?where an electric current is passed through a liquid which conducts electricity?. (France, 2010) In the electrolysis process, copper is transferred from an anode (a positively charged electrode that attracts negatively charged metal ions) to the cathode (a negatively charged electrode that attracts positively charged metal ions) of an electrolytic cell. Copper is suitable for use in the creation of computers because it can easily be shaped and formed, and its electrical conductivity is second only to silver. ...read more.


With injection moulding, molten plastic is injected into a cavity which is heated and slowly moulded into shape. After the heating and manipulation into the desired shape, the product is cooled and allowed to set into a solid item. With the blow moulding method molten plastic is melted into a large tube. Air is then blown into the tube forming its shape and design. The newly formed plastic product is then cooled and allowed to set. (Practical Use of Materials ? Plastics, 2011) Plastic has significant advantages over other materials. It can be coloured, melted, shaped, squashed and made into fibres. Its properties of strength, rigidity and toughness across a wide range of temperatures make it perfect for use in computers, as is its natural impact resistance (resistance to damage/breakage). The creation of the modern day computer can be regarded as a modern day marvel; however, this would not be so without the superiority of three basic materials that we take for granted: silicon, copper and plastic. These three basic materials that are abundant throughout Earth have allowed the human race to prosper and change the world into the technological savvy one that we reside in today. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Changing Materials - The Earth and its Atmosphere section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Changing Materials - The Earth and its Atmosphere essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    Biodegradable Polymers

    5 star(s)

    Biodegradable plastics are plastics that can undergo faster and more complete degradation. There are three main types of biodegradable polymers: 1. Biopolymers These are polymers made by living micro-organisms, for example, poly(hydroxybutyrate) PHB is a natural polyester made by certain bacteria.

  2. Peer reviewed

    What is a metal ore?

    4 star(s)

    However, cast iron is brittle, not very strong and prone to severe rusting. If we remove all of the impurities in cast iron we get wrought iron. However, wrought iron is very soft and is used only for decoration. If we take pure iron and add back controlled amounts of carbon we make steel - an alloy of iron.

  1. Peer reviewed

    The production of plastics involves a process called polymerization.

    3 star(s)

    There is no suitable alternative to plastic so we should turn our attention to minimizing the production and usage of plastic. When plastics burn they burn faster and at higher temperatures than normal substances.

  2. Extraction of Metals.

    Aluminium is more reactive than carbon), but not if the metal has to be very pure. The metal ions in a salt (e.g. sodium chloride) can be reduced in electrolysis, i.e. they gain electrons at the negative electrode (cathode). At the cathode: Na+(l)

  1. The Electrolysis Of Copper (ii) Sulphate Solution Using Copper Electrodes

    However it could have been possible to cool the electrolyte using for example cold spray. Then the experiment could have been done at higher currents and even extreme currents. More experiments of the sort describe above would have to be conducted to conclude that the mass of Copper deposited is

  2. I am investigating which supermarkets have the strongest plastic bags; I have tested this ...

    Put the 100g masses in the plastic bag until it can't take any more 3. Repeat this twice more for the same brand of plastic bag 4. Repeat all the steps for the other two brands of plastic bags Results Tesco 1 Tesco 2 Tesco 3 Somerfield 1 Somerfield

  1. Human Impact On the Environment

    And the thickness of ice was 2.1 metres in 1993-1997. There is a link because as the carbon dioxide levels increase it makes the surface air temperature to increase making more ice melt which reduces the thickness of ice. Global Warming Global warming is when the earth's atmospheres temperature increases or rises and it heats up.

  2. Are we making the best use of crude oil?

    (Source 2) Scientists and environmentalists have been searching for an alternative fuel that can run cars for a long time now. At the same time, it should not be heavy on the budget. Some feel that the best option available in lieu crude oil.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work