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USGS CMG InfoBank: Silicates

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Comment: 24:45 - 26:21 (01:36)
Source: Annenberg/CPB Resources - Earth Revealed - 12. Minerals: The Materials of Earth
Keywords: mineral, silicate, silicon, element, semi-conductor, microchip, computer, technology

Our transcription: As we've seen, minerals can form in many ways.
Most are relatively uncommon, while a few dozen are quite plentiful, but no minerals on the planet are more abundant than the silicates.
Silicates constitute more than 90 percent of all mineral varieties on Planet Earth.
Most silicates possess neither the political and financial power of gold, nor the exquisite beauty of diamonds, but their economic value as construction material is enormous.
And one of their common ingredients, the element silicon, is used extensively in a very specialized type of modern technology: computers.
Pure, solid silicon is crystalline and hard, so it can be sliced to a thickness of only a fraction of a centimeter.
It's also a semi-conductor, which means it can be made to conduct electricity.
These properties make silicon the ideal raw material for the manufacture of microchips used in computers.
These days computer technology is so widespread that we tend to take it for granted, but without the thin silicon wafers made from common silicon minerals, the awesome processing power of the computer age might never have come about.

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