A WAFER OF ASML
Silicon is the material of choice in the chip industry. Unlike the metals normally used to conduct electrical currents, silicon is a ‘semiconductor’, meaning that its conductive properties can be increased by mixing it with other materials such as phosphorus or boron. This makes it possible to turn an electrical current on or off.
The good news is that it’s everywhere! Silicon is made from sand, and it is the second most abundant element on earth after oxygen. Silicon wafers are made using a type of sand called silica sand, which is made of silicon dioxide. The sand is melted and cast in the form of a large cylinder called an ‘ingot’. This ingot is then sliced into thin wafers.