Despite their close proximity in the periodic table, silicon and diamond might seem to occupy very different niches within the hierarchy of valuable materials. Silicon is one of the main components of common materials such as beach sand. On the other hand, although composed of nothing more precious than carbon, diamond has become the world’s most heavily marketed jewel. Add tiny amounts of other elements to silicon, however, and you have the essence of high technology — semiconductors capable of remarkable electronic feats.
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