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The Ultra-Pure Sand That Makes Your Phone Possible

Many have never heard of Spruce Pine, North Carolina but this remote area is tremendously important to the rest of the world. It's the mineral found here—snowy white grains, soft as powdered sugar. It's quartz, but not just any quartz. Spruce Pine is the source of the purest natural quartz—a species of pristine sand—ever found on Earth. This ultra-pure material plays a key role in manufacturing the silicon used to make computer chips. In fact, there's an excellent chance the chip in your laptop or cell phone was made using sand from this obscure Appalachian backwater.

Making today's computer chips is a fiendishly complicated process requiring essentially pure silicon. The slightest impurity can throw their tiny systems out of whack. Finding silicon is easy. It's one of the most abundant elements on Earth. The problem is that it never occurs naturally in pure form. Separating out the silicon takes considerable doing.

The sand is blasted in a powerful electric furnace resulting in 99 percent pure silicon. But that's not nearly good enough for high-tech uses. Additional extreme processing is required because computer chips need silicon to be 99.99999999999 percent pure—eleven 9s. "We are talking about one lonely atom that is not silicon among billions of silicon companions," says geologist Michael Welland.

Possible Preaching Angles: Holiness; Purification; Sanctification- Modern tech devices require material that is of the greatest purity possible and producing it requires intense refining efforts. God also requires His unique people to be of the highest purity, to be uncontaminated by the world, and He spares no effort in our refining process.

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