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Mineral Monday: Silicon

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It’s Monday! Which means that here at Fircroft we once again turn our gaze towards those minerals that play an essential part in our everyday lives.

This week we’re taking a closer look at Silicon: a mineral that is so important that it has given its name to an entire valley and which plays a vital role in modern electronics.

First identified in the early-nineteenth century, Silicon was given its name in 1817 by the Scottish chemist Thomas Thomson.

Since its discovery a multitude of uses have been found for Silicon, most notably as an important element in semiconductors and high-technology devices such as computers, tablets and mobile phones.

Where is it produced / mined?

The leading producers of Silicon include China, Russia, the US, Norway, Brazil and France amongst others.

Did you know?

• Silicon, measured by mass, makes up 27.7% of the Earth’s crust and is the eighth most common element in the Universe.
• Silicon is well known to be a key ingredient in high-tech components, but did you know that silicon also plays an important part in the make-up of bricks and ceramics?
• When the Apollo 11 astronauts landed on the moon in 1969, they left behind a white pouch containing a silicon disc inscribed with 73 messages, each from a different country, expressing wishes of goodwill and peace!
• Mother Nature also makes use of silicon- with plants using silicon to strength their cell walls to build resistance to disease.
• Increasingly, luxury watch brands including Omega, Rolex and Cartier are incorporating silicon parts in their mechanical watch movements thanks to the desirable properties of silicon which include; thermal stability, shock resistance and little to no lubrication to maintain functionality.

So when you use your computer today, check your phone, or glance at your watch bear a thought for those working hard in the mining and minerals industry to bring you silicon.

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