From Sandcastles to Smartphones | Dr. Donna Carroll

The development of microchips and modern electronic devices wouldn’t be the same without sand. To some an open door, but not too all. So let’s dive into history together with Dr. Donna Carroll (Maastricht University).


Early computers were built using components so large that they filled entire rooms.  Thanks to the invention of the transistor and chips (integrated circuits), technologies thousands of times more powerful, are now merely pocket-sized.

The main components you find inside your iPads and smartphones are semiconductors fabricated from silicon, which is one of the most common constituents of sand.  In this lecture , former lecturer of Physics and academic jack-of-all-trades Donna Carroll explains how we go from a simple particle of sand to a complicated, modern electronic device.  She discusses the remarkable properties that silicon displays and how these are manipulated to produce such varied technologies ranging from lighting, LED televisions, radiation detectors, digital cameras, night vision goggles and solar panels.

Without sand there’s nothing….

Donna Carrol is a former Lecturer of Physics having completed her PhD in experimental physics in 2008, focusing on a materials analysis of various phosphate and alumni-phosphate glasses with medical, lasing and geological applications.

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