Segments in this Video

Early Greek Chemical Theories (02:01)


Dr. Chris Morse explains that sand is silicon dioxide, and can be converted into a chemical component used in smart phones. Democritus claimed matter was made of indivisible particles called atomos, while Aristotle proposed it was made of the four elements.

Early Arab Chemistry (02:09)

9th century Iraqi philosophers translated Greek, Persian, and Indian scientific knowledge into Arabic. Geber used Greek philosophy to make tools and practical materials and record their properties.

Separating the Beach (02:34)

Morse demonstrates how to separate solids from liquids and distill salt water. He is left with sand, salt, and water. Oxygen can be separated from silicon dioxide to isolate silicon.

Sand to Sun (03:27)

Chemists separate oxygen from silicon to create semiconductors. They melt and reconstitute pure silicon rocks into a regular crystal atom pattern, adding boron as an impurity.

Solar Cell Production Process (02:27)

A single silicon crystal contains a few boron atoms to create a net positive charge. Employees slice ingots into thin wafers and diffuse one side with phosphorus gas for a negative charge. A silicon nitrate coating helps capture more light.

History of Oxygen (02:39)

Late 18th century Europeans knew air was a gas mixture. In 1750, Joseph Black discovered carbon dioxide; learn about the Phlogiston Theory. Antoine Lavoisier found rusted mercury weighed more than metal mercury—contradicting Phlogiston Theory.

Oxygen Theory (02:43)

Lavoisier disproved Phlogiston Theory and proposed rusted mercury was heavier because it interacted with gas in the air—agreeing with the Conservation of Matter principle. He isolated oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen and proved water was a compound of two gases.

Making Water the Hard Way (02:04)

A chemist fills a balloon with one part oxygen and two parts hydrogen and holds a candle flame to it. It explodes and releases water vapor. Lavoisier proved the two to one ratio was correct.

Atomic Manipulation (03:00)

Chemists combine elements in new ways to make new materials. MIT researchers work to make solar cells more efficient by removing iron atoms and other metal impurities impeding electron pathways.

Improving Solar Cell Performance (02:30)

MIT chemists use a phosphorus diffusion furnace to draw iron atoms out of a silicon wafer. Researchers hope to improve solar efficiency from 16% to 20% to become cost effective against fossil fuels. Sand silicon could become the core of modern chemical technology.

Credits: Matter and the Rise of Atomic Theory: Chemistry: Challenges and Solutions (00:27)

Credits: Matter and the Rise of Atomic Theory: Chemistry: Challenges and Solutions

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Matter and the Rise of Atomic Theory: Chemistry: Challenges and Solutions

Part of the Series : Chemistry: Challenges and Solutions
3-Year Streaming Price: $149.95



This program traces the story of humans' practice of chemistry from ancient times. The tradition of refining and purifying substances is seen today in the purification of pure silicon from a common material—silica sand—for advanced electronics, such as cell phones and solar cells.

Length: 28 minutes

Item#: BVL110248

Copyright date: ©2014

Closed Captioned

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