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Properties of elements that are between metals and nonmetals.

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Food For Thought- Computer Chips


Credit: Jon Sullivan
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Computers_chips_circuits.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Compute This! [Figure1]

If you are reading this chances are you are on a computer or will use a computer sometime later today. Since their invention only a few decades ago, computers have radically changed the way we communicate, think, and live. Our world revolves around computers and the lifestyle that accompanies them. We owe our lives not only to computers but Silicon, the metalloid that computer chips are made out of. Recall that metalloids are elements that have properties of both metals and nonmetals. Silicon is an inexpensive and good semiconductor material which means its properties lie somewhere between an insulator and metal conductor. Silicon chips are also able to change conductivity under certain situations. These traits of silicon allow for computers function the way they do.

Creative Applications

1. What are other examples of metalloids? (hint consult your periodic table)

2. Research why silicon is the best choice for making computer chips. Why would other elements not be as desirable?

3. Silicon chips are used in what are known today as digital computers. Research some future directions that computers are taking.

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  1. [1]^ Credit: Jon Sullivan; Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Computers_chips_circuits.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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