Bet you didn’t think I’d do it! That’s right, I’m continuing my series of chemical element open threads. Number two in this possibly-118-part series is boron.
Boron is the fifth element, and the first semiconductor. The semiconductors are weird: they form an imperfect stair-step pattern separating the metals of the inner Periodic Table from the non-metals of the right side (semiconductors shown here in tan).
In pure form, they have properties between those of the metals and the non-metals, but boron is hard to purify. If you take the effort, you are rewarded with what looks suspiciously like the Petri dish of vanadium chips from the Vanadium Night Thread.
Boron is produced through cosmic ray spallation, a term you may remember from this sign in Portal 2:
Basically, energy streaming off the sun slams into Earth’s upper atmosphere and changes the makeup of the atoms there. (Beryllium, a much cooler element than boron, is made the same way.) After this, the transmogrified atoms fall to earth, get bound up in borate compounds, and go on to live productive lives in fiberglass, laundry detergent, and my favorite throwaway Futurama character.