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Strategic Metals that make your Computer Work

Computer processors, cpusThe computers we use on a daily basis are an intricate piece of machinery. So I guess it just stands to reason that there are a plethora of materials that is necessary with making them operate. In terms of metals alones, most computers contain fractions of minor metals, precious metals, rare earths and rare strategic metals. Some of these materials are extremely rare and most are quite expensive. Here, we are going to take a short journey through your computer to see what metals make it work.

The hard disk is made from either a metal or glass. The metal versions are made with a combination of aluminum and magnesium. The layers on the disk can be made up of many different materials. The outer coating is generally NiP which is a nickel phosphorous alloy that can be brought to a high polish while underneath the polished layer you can find the magnetic layer which consists of cobalt, iron and nickel. Beneath this layer we find the recording layer which contains metals like platinum, chromium and cobalt.

For years, memory and processors have been composed mainly of silicon. However, over the last few years a rare strategic metal called hafnium has been added to improve the performance of the chips. Hafnium is a critical metal that is quite rare. The other highly valuable metal used in the processors is gold. If you look closely at a processor all the pins are coated with gold.

The disk drive consists of powerful magnets. The magnets themselves consist of neodymium which is a rare earth metal. Neodymium is mixed with iron and boron to form a magnet that can lift up to 1000X its own weight.

The capacitors and resistors on the motherboard are a combination of many different metals. Resistors are mainly composed of aluminum oxide but at each end you may find palladium, platinum and silver electrodes. The most common capacitors today utilize another rare strategic metal called tantalum. It is this material that has made it possible to reduce the size of many of our current personal electronics.

The metals that connect all of these components together are copper for the wiring and a silver, tin and copper alloy in the solder.

Over fifty metals are used to bring us the computers that we use on a daily basis. According to both the United States & British Geological Survey’s, many of these metals are in critical supply. Governments in the West have shown a lack of tolerance towards the opening of new mines that would clearly assist in fulfilling the demand of the growing ‘personal electronics market’. Growing demand and dwindling supplies mean there is an obvious opportunity for future profit!

 By: Randy Hilarski - The Rare Metals Guy

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