Semiconductor Technology is going to keep popping up in your news feed for many years to come. Even as some look to carbon and other non-silicon elements as the platform for next-generation computing, which will be necessary if we want to continue the exponential historical trend in computing power, semiconductor remains the substance of choice in many fields.
There are countless uses for silicon, and it shows up in some of our oldest technology, like glass, and our newest, like computers. No matter the application or the industry, high-quality silicon will make your project a success.
Silicon is a main ingredient in very low-tech creations, including bricks and ceramics. But the high-tech stuff is where the element makes its mark. As a semiconductor, silicon is used to make transistors, which amplify or switch electrical currents and are the backbone of electronics from radios to iPhones.
Here are 3 notable uses of silicon
Though semi-conductive wafers are extremely valuable in the tech space, the ultra-thin silicon sheets are used in other applications as well, notably, in solar panels. For the most part, solar cells and solar panels are created using silicon wafers simply because of their semiconducting properties, as well as their abundance. Silicon has a solar band efficiency of 1.1 eV, which makes it a reasonable option to be used.
Silicon wafers are an excellent fit for use in solar panels both because of their semi-conductive properties and silicon’s efficiency at generating energy from the sun.
Today, silicon is implemented in virtually every project. Silicons versatility enables it to resist heat while retaining metalloid properties, allowing transistors to be manufactured. Now, silicon has become an integral component in electronics while still being heavily implemented in construction products. Silicon is the world’s most versatile material. It is of the essential elements on Earth. With it, many, if not most of the world’s innovations, were created mostly due to silicon discovery.
It would be impossible to discuss silicon innovations without mentioning its most remarkable implementations within the electronic world, even earning itself a name within the United States- Silicon Valley. Specifically, about transistors, silicon led to man’s most significant achievements- durable, powerful computers. Despite silicon being more challenging to work with, high-purity “semiconductor-grade” silicon enables devices to function from -55 to 125°C- a significant improvement in computational potential.
Lasers revolutionized numerous processes and industries, and none of it would have been possible without silicon. A semiconductor called silicon carbide is used to create silicon-based lasers. The most powerful silicon-based laser has a power output of 100 mW and can reach a current per unit area of 200 A/cm2.
The most powerful silicon-based laser can rack up a record 111°C temperature, with a threshold current per unit area of 200 A/cm2 and an output power of 100 mW. Likely, silicon-based electronics have probably reached their limits. Still, silicon photonics has also been a source of interest, which combines photonics and electronics to create ultra-fast optical data processing.
Silicon is relatively cheap thanks to its abundance and is not that hard to purify. It also works well at a wide range of temperatures, and you can modify it chemically to change its electrical properties. This way, it will address as much electricity as you need.
This makes it possible, for instance, to pass from “off” to “on” mode, and vice-versa, at average temperature, or to let electricity pass through individual transistors selectively, without burning the circuits. Moreover, you can use just one material to design plenty of different components in the same device.