Thesis ID: CBB969523433

War Crystals, Everlasting Metal, and Space-Time Annihilation: Excavating the Historical Geography of Early Digital Electronics (2023)


Utilizing government archives, historical trade catalogues, and archival newspaper coverage, this research traces the origins of two key mineral supply chains for digital electronics: high purity quartz (used in semiconductor chips) and tantalum (used in capacitors, among other applications). Sourcing of both materials by United States firms were dramatically influenced by procurement initiatives during World War II developed for specialized communications technology demands, with massive investment and extraction occurring primarily in Brazil for high purity quartz and predominantly in Belgian Congo for tantalum. Both histories are situated within the broader context of the “critical mineral” as a political category and concept developed in the interwar period in the United States amidst the rise of political models like technocracy and the associative state. The ramifications of these supply chain histories on contemporary understanding of high purity quartz and tantalum are also discussed.

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Authors & Contributors
Santinucci, Giovanna
Farinelli, Roberto
Bailly-Maître, Marie-Christine
Kázmér, Miklós
Pantalony, David Alexander
Martins, Artur
Earth Sciences History: Journal of the History of the Earth Sciences Society
Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences
IEEE Annals of the History of Computing
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Social Studies of Science
Der Anschnitt. Zeitschrift für Montangeschichte
Insegna del Giglio
Yale University Press
Mineral resources
Mines and mining
Mineral Industries
Environmental history
Landscape; landscapes
Legislative and administrative regulations
Posewitz, Theodor
Murray, John
Mero, John
Time Periods
14th century
19th century
13th century
21st century
Tuscany (Italy)

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