Imagine a laptop whose body is made out of machined
solid polycrystalline silicon rather than plastic,
aluminium, titanium, magnesium, or
See [links] for some inspirational pictures. I think the
blueness of the solar cells is due to being doped, so the
laptop would be gray by
but doping would still be an option just for
appearance.* Unlike in the gray pictures, the laptop's
surfaces would be machined flat
or curved as appropriate, but the crystal structure would
still be apparent on that smooth surface (after an acid
etch, if necessary). The
silicon's natural rough, fractured surface could be left
alone (probably after being produced by deliberate
breaking) for accent areas on
gamer-oriented laptop models.
Instead of slicing a silicon boule widthwise in to wafers,
as is done for semiconductor manufacturing, it would be
sliced lengthwise into
rectangular pieces, like a tree trunk. These would then
be further machined into the laptop body parts. If it
turns out the silicon alone is
not strong enough, an internal frame made of a stronger
material could be added; this would work like a sword
with a harder but more
brittle alloy for the edge and a softer but stronger alloy
for the back of the blade.**
Pure (undoped) silicon is a dielectric at room
temperature, so Wi-Fi/Bluetooth antenna placement
should be about as unrestricted as in a
It would not be practical to use the laptop's silicon body
as a substrate for fabricating the silicon semiconductor
circuits that make up the
important parts of the computer's electronics, not least
(nor anywhere near most) because those need
monocrystalline silicon, which is
more expensive and less pretty than polycrystalline.
On the other hand, polycrystalline silicon would probably
be suitable to make a capacitive touch surface out of.
The entire palm rest area
could then be a giant multitouch trackpad (with rested
palms ignored by their shape and size).
Porous silicon apparently can be made to photoluminesce
and electroluminesce [link]. I don't know what it takes to
porate silicon, but this
could be a way to implement some kind of low-resolution
display for status or touch area indication (e.g.), or just
cool-looking light effects. Alternatively, maybe an OLED
screen could be printed onto the silicon?
Even if these laptops never became popular, their mere
existence as inspiration could also open up a whole field
of using silicon as a
structural or aesthetic material. Silicon for mechanical
applications has been studied in the past [link], but not
extensively or with any
commercialization that I'm aware of.
*I guess you could try to make the laptop's body
Damascus laptops, too?