We Can Figure This Out.org
Virtual Lab: How Semiconductors and Transistors Work
University of Virginia
             
 
© 2003-Present, John C. Bean
 
Now it's time to produce a small "diamond-structure" crystal of silicon.

As we move around the crystal, you can see that in certain directions its atoms have three-fold or four-fold symmetry. When these crystals are forcibly broken, they tend to cleave along planes with fewer atomic connections. This leads to the facets we associate with diamond crystals.

Similarly cleaved silicon crystals aren't quite as interesting: they are not as hard and they only come in a dark charcoal-silver color.

 
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