December 21, 2015
Why Christmas Would Shut Down Without Silicon?
The holidays are a time of great fellowship, pretty lights and decorations, and of course …
Gifts. Oh so many gifts!
When you look around at your home during the holidays and you see all the seeming divergent items that help make your home festive for Christmas, have you noticed that there may be a single item that may contribute to the existence of all this festivity?
Think about if there was a certain element that might have not existed – would Christmas look the same in your home?
The Christmas Element?
Silicon is one of the most common and prevalent elements on Earth, and it is used in a number of different products, many of which can be found in our Christmas-adorned domicile.
Silicon, which is not very prevalent on its own but in combination with other elements (such as oxygen, carbon and hydrogen among the most common), does have a lot of versatility in manufacturing efforts. Silicon is called a metalloid, which is a hybrid between a metal and a non-metal. This means that silicon has some qualities of the one and some qualities of the other to where it cannot be placed into either category.
At room temperature, it looks like a metal in that it is solid. It is a decent semiconductor, which makes it great for solar panels and computer chips with its ability to conduct electricity. It is a semiconductor in that the flow of current can be controlled, and it does conduct electricity better as it gets heated (which is the opposite of a metal, by the way). Silicon, in the form of silica, can prevent moisture and even odors from affecting fragile electronics or clothing, and it can be used as a bonding agent in certain grout, mortar and even in some bricks and ceramics.
When you take a look at it, silicon has the properties to be at the center of all things Christmas.
Maybe you have a tree stand filled with sand to hold the Christmas tree in place. Maybe you want to package some electronics to send to faraway friends or relatives that need moisture to be kept away from the electronics. Maybe you have electronics in your own home (very few of us don’t!). Maybe you have garlands or wreaths or decorations and plug into outlets alongside your lights?
In many of these items, silicon is involved in some way or another. When you think about how much silicon is used in different ways, there may be reason to think that Christmas would look very different without it.
Where silicon can make the biggest influence at Christmas is in many of the gifts that are exchanged from under the tree. Many of the most popular gifts are electronic in nature – tablet computers, smartphones and even many toys for the children. Appliances, computer devices, televisions and many others use silicon chips to run and record memory to execute tasks through transistors. While a couple of alternatives to silicon have been developed and are in some commercial production, the disappearance of silicon would at the very least make electronics more expensive – which would certainly pinch many gift-giving budgets.
Maybe it is time to pay due respect to the versatile element of silicon and give it thanks for the festivity that makes up our holiday season.