Monthly Archives: September 2011

Solar Power -part I, purifying and making Silicon Chips

Okay, Solar panels intrigue be a bit, so I’ll tell you about them in two posts, purifying and making the chips, and how solar panels work. Here is Solar Power       -part I, purifying and making Silicon Chips. Okay, first Quartz (SiO2 ) pebbles are gathered and sent to the purifying plant, where they are placed into a electric arc furnace (basically a reeaaally hot place) and are applied to a Carbon arc. Heat (as I hope you know) tends to break bonds and so breaks the bonds between the silicon and oxygen, and the oxygen flies off. (I’m pretty sure the molten silicon is then poured into bar molds). The purified silicon is now 99% pure, useful for many things, but not pure enough for solar panels. To purify it further, the silicon is passed through a heated area several times, “dragging” the inpurities towards the rear end. After doing this for a while, the silicon is pure, and the inpure end is cut off. Then the silicon is melted and 100.000% pure silicon “seeds” from the front end of the silicon are dipped into the melted stuff (which is actually around 99.998 pure), then drawn out, dipped back in, drawn out and repeated (just like candle dipping) until a good-sized boule is formed. Dipping it like that draws out only silicon and leaves behind the inpurities (Carbon from the arc, Oxygen left inside, etc.). Now the silicon is sawn into a round ingot or bar, losing about half of the silicon, and then cut into rectangles or hexagons so they can fit together in the panel. Later they are cemented together in a steel or aluminum frame, wired behind with copper to carry electrical currents, and sent off to building companies for houses, or to NASA for sattellites, or other such things. 



Now, every Element has a different amount of protons, neutrons, and electrons, but regular microscopes cannot see them because normal light is too “big”. High-tech microscopes use electron light, which has shorter wavelengths, an thus they are able to see the individual atom, but how can you see and count the individual electrons, which are a few hundred times smaller than the actual atom? 

Well, around 1920, a man named Niels Bohr was trying, like everyone else, to come up with a model of the Atom. From Thomson, he knew that there are Electrons, so came up with the idea of a Nucleus at the cener and electrons floating around it, but the electrons don’t stick to the Nucleus because they repel each other. When the Electrons get close to each other, they repel each other with the like charged energy, and some “shoot” away, gradually they come back, and go away again. That charged energy must go somewhere, so it “flashes” as light. More or less energy bursts causes light of different colors, and from that the Spectrometer, a machine that can see those colors, was developed. Actually, the spectrometer was featured around the beginning of a Tintin book by Herge: the shooting star, published around 1940. In it, professor Phostle holds up to the light a black band with colors or lines on it, showing the Electrons energy level and thus the number of Electrons.  


At the center of the Atom there is a small positively charged Nucleus. Around it are what is called Orbitals. In 1897, J.J. Thomson, with his plum pudding model, discovered the Electrons, negatively charged particles, and in doing so was the first to propose that there are particles 1000 times smaller than Atoms. In 1909 Ernest Rutherford discovered that all the positively charged particles were closely packed in the center, so that pretty much maxed out Thomson’s plum pudding model. After Rutherford’s discovery, a man named Hantaro Nagaoka used both ideas and came up with the Saturnian model, an idea that the center of the atom was positively charged and the Electrons orbited around it, like the rings around Saturn. No one paid much attention to him, but his theory is one of the closest to the modern idea, that the Electrons float around the positively charged Nucleus, but not in a regular place, (as in Nagaoka’s model) but being found anywhere around the Nucleus.



Is it a Ruby?                                                                                                                              

-that might be a lie! 

though it also looks quite like an eye!

if you guess it’s name

you get 3 black pearls              

(and plenty of fame!)

the owner of it wishes to be free,

and I am glad the thing is not owned by me.

above this thing is a red crown,

this hint is useless -but it was found on the way to town.

it used to flutter:

and in doing so it could whack a glass shutter.



Cilvel* War

*Cilvel, a mix of “Civil” and “Silver”

Tom Peasley, one of the most important Virginia City residents, also a loyal Unionist, had heard whispers about “The Knights of The Golden Circle” a Confederate society operating around Virginia City. Tom also found out that their leader, “Terry”, had raised 107 men. If the Confederates took the Silver mines, then that would go a long way against the Unionists. Peasly notified the Fort Churchill officers for help -no answer. Then, one bright, clear morning, there was seen a crowd around the Johnny Newman’s saloon, on top of which the Confederate flag was flapping in the breeze. Dr. Mcmeans, a leader of the Knights of the Golden Circle, (with 200 Knights at his back) was making a speech, claiming the Comstock lode for the Confederates, and threatening anyone who would try to resist. Bob Waterhouse, a friend of Peasley, then rose the Unionist flag on the other side while shouting that he would shoot whoever tried to take it down. Just then, Peasley arrived with a small platoon of men, and a fight was sure to ensue, when the clatter of horses and the rolling of drums was heard from the nearby canyon, and the Unionist uniform was sighted.