Experiments You Can Do at Home - But Probably Shouldn't

Chapter 6
Natural Wonders » Making Silicon from Sand

Making Silicon from Sand

Turn dirt into the building block of every computer-and make an attractive fireball. The industrial economy may someday run out of one of its essential natural resources, oil, but at least the high-tech economy is safe in its supply of silicon, the element that is the key ingredient in every computer processor.

Its oxide form, known as silica or quartz, is dirtcommon. In fact, it is dirt: Almost all kinds of sand, clay and rock contain silica in one form or another, and overall more than half the Earth's crust is made of silica.

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