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1.1.3: The Importance of Crystallography

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    So, we prize mineral commodities and ore minerals because they provide resources that support our lifestyles. But, the science of mineralogy is important in other ways. In particular, crystallography, the branch of mineralogy that deals with the formation and properties of crystals, plays a huge role in our lives. This is because knowledge of crystals and their properties, and the technology that comes from them, are fundamental to electronics, and to modern living.

    1.5 Silicon video chip in circuit board

    For example, the silicon chips in electronic devices (Figure 1.5), semiconductors and microchips of many sorts, and the LCD (liquid crystal display) screen on a smart phone are all crystalline. Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are commonplace in TV screens, light bulbs, and other devices. LEDs are crystalline. Electronic clocks in devices of many sorts, microphones and telephones, pickups for guitars, and ultrasound devices in hospitals are based on the piezoelectric effect of a quartz crystal. And roof-top photovoltaic systems use crystalline materials to generate electricity.

    It is, perhaps, a stretch for mineralogists to claim credit for modern electronic devises. After all, most of the crystalline materials used in modern electronic applications today are synthetic. Yet they all have natural analogs. And, in large part, it was the study of those analogs and other investigations of mineral crystals that were the start that led to today’s industries based on crystal technology.

    This page titled 1.1.3: The Importance of Crystallography is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Dexter Perkins via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.

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