It turns out that some of the most pure silicon dioxide in the world is mined in Appalachia in the same hills that are the home to coal mines. This ultra pure silicon dioxide is used to make microchips for computers, smart phones and solar panels. In fact, most of the high and ultra high purity silicon dioxide used in the world comes from Appalachia. This ultra pure silicon dioxide is melted down to form silicon metal ingots such as the below:
The ingots are cut into wafers and doped with Boron and Phosphorus to create an electrical potential that is excited by photons to produce electricity. Who knew something so high tech has its origins in the Appalachian mountains?