If you have ever taken the time to learn about what computer chips and other components that are found in electronic devices are made from, you likely know that they are primarily composed of silicon. Germanium is used today to a certain extent, but it is nowhere as popular as silicon. Have you ever wondered why this is the element of choice for computer chips?
One of the main reasons why silicon is used to make computer wafers is because it is stable. Germanium chips were often used when the computer era first began. They are still used today for some devices. However, silicon has proven to be stable when compared to germanium and other semiconducting elements. It is able to maintain its semiconducting properties at a high temperature, especially when compared to germanium. Carbon is an option that was looked at to be used for creating computer chips because it is also a semiconductor. However, it is very brittle. So silicon beat carbon too.
Do you know where silicon comes from? It is extracted from sand. The process to extract it is pretty easy. This means that silicon is abundant and inexpensive to produce. In fact, silicon is the second most abundant element that is found on the planet. It is only behind oxygen. When it is compared to other semiconductors that could possibly be used in manufacturing electronic components, silicon is much more cost-effective.
Another reason why silicon is a popular choice for computer chips is because its conductivity can be easily changed. Depending on other elements that are introduced, thin silicon wafers can become more or less conductive. This offers a lot of flexibility for manufacturers.
When it comes to determining the element that will be used for an electronic device, it is easy to see why silicon has become the top choice. It is stable, especially compared to germanium and carbon. It is abundant and inexpensive to produce. And it can easily be changed based on other elements that are added to it.