What’s in our phones?

We use our phones everyday. Sending e-mails, taking pictures, texting to friends, pretty much everything. But do we ever wonder what’s actually in them? In this post we will cover four materials that are in our phones. Gold, Tin, Tantalum and Tungsten. The place where these materials come from is Congo, China and Indonesia, but we will mostly look at Congo.

The first material we shall be looking at is gold, symbol is Au with an atomic number of 79. In our phones gold is used to coat the wires that are very small it is used because Gold is the highly efficient conductor that can carry these tiny currents and remain free of corrosion. Electronic components made with gold are highly reliable. Gold is used in connectors, switch and relay contacts, soldered joints, connecting wires and connection strips. They don’t use copper or silver because they quickly corrode in air, leaving the connectors with a thin layer of terribly low conductivity corrosion products.

The next material is tin, symbol Sn and with a atomic number of 50. Tin is used for soldering the connecting wires because tin has a very low melting point. Because of this it is very easy to coat wires that have a high melting point. Making it really easy to move electricity around.

The third material is Tantalum, symbol Ta and a atomic number of 73. Tantalum is used because it stores electricity and it is extremely stable at temperatures lower than 150 degrees Celsius, and needs exposure to hydrofluoric acid, one of the nastier acids out there, to cause corrosion. This protection from corrosion is due to a natural protective layer created by oxides of tantalum on the surface of the the metal; making the element a perfect match for use in structures exposed to the the elements.

Last but not least is Tungsten, symbol W and a atomic number of 74, right after tantalum. It is used in phones because it makes your phone vibrate Tungsten alloy vibrator is excellent material for making this component. Since the density of tungsten alloy is so high and the maximum density should be 18.6g/cm3. It is popular for the component needs great heaviness but small capacity, like mobile phone vibration.

Now that we have the materials lets go over the issues

What are possible ethical issues related to this material?
Many of the groups that are controlling the mines are going against human rights by sexually assaulting the people who don’t support their group.

What are possible government issues?
There are no government issues other than the lack of government. The mines are run by militia groups who spend the earnings on guns. The workers, who are forced live in horrible conditions and are treated as slaves.

To combat these issues though how can we help?
One of the things we can do get the school to ask apple if they could check the materials that are in our computers. We could send an email to them saying that we want them to make sure that they get conflict free materials. This will help because it will decrease the demand for conflict materials making the militia groups run out of business and the government can control the mines once more so the workers will be paid.

But why? It’s not our problem?
As an international school we look at helping other people. Ethically, not asking apple to check their materials is against our society’s attitude. It would go against of what we think.  Also by using conflict minerals we are helping the militia groups while we are saying that we would never do that. It is very hypocritical. 



ENOUGHproject. “Conflict Minerals 101.” YouTube. YouTube, 18 Nov. 2009. Web. 15 Nov. 2016.

“The Many Uses of Gold.” Uses of Gold in Industry, Medicine, Computers, Electronics, Jewelry. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2016.

“What Are Conflict Minerals?” Source Intelligence. Souce 44, n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.

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