Sand and Silicon: Science that Changed the World

Hardcover | March 22, 2012

byDenis McWhan

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This is a story about sand and how science and silicon changed our lives. Over the last century, science taught us how to take this most common material and create the products on which we depend. It allows us to determine the atomic structure of materials and to grow novel, new materialsatomic layer by atomic layer. The principles of thermodynamics are used to transform sand into ultra pure silicon. Quantum mechanics gave birth to the electronic age and the computer chip in which dopants are precisely placed in ultra pure silicon. The absorption and emission and reflection ofquanta of light, photons, underlies solar cells, light emitting diodes, radiation detectors and optical fibers. This book follows the history of these scientific discoveries and relates them to the products made from sand.

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This is a story about sand and how science and silicon changed our lives. Over the last century, science taught us how to take this most common material and create the products on which we depend. It allows us to determine the atomic structure of materials and to grow novel, new materialsatomic layer by atomic layer. The principles ...

Denis McWhan worked at many presitgious institutions over his forty year career including the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Bell Telephone Laboratories Inc., Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Grenoble, France and the U.S. Department of Energy, Brookhaven National Laboratory. He has published around 200 tech...
Format:HardcoverDimensions:160 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.98 inPublished:March 22, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199640270

ISBN - 13:9780199640270

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Table of Contents

1. Submarines, Clocks and Sensors2. The Architecture of Sand3. How Pure is Pure?4. Impurities are Key5. The Sun Shines Bright6. How Small is Small?7. Through the Looking Glass8. Sand is Everywhere

Editorial Reviews

'Where would the world be without sand? Pure and impure, heated and x rayed, in tiny crystals and huge quantities, sand is not only underfoot, but - as McWhan shows in drawing on four decades of scientific research - the most important substance in modern science and life. We rely on it ineverything from our watches, cigarette lighters, submarine detectors, and filters to the computer chips that are literally the basis of the electronics revolution. Like books such as Coal, Cod and Salt, this book is an entertaining read in the genre of microhistory." --Robert P. Crease, chairman of the philosophy department at Stony Brook University, author of World in the Balance: the Historic Quest for an Absolute System of Measurement.