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The metals used in the creation of computers

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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.

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