Lifton defines “technology metals”
What are technology metals and material? They are those chemical elements mostly metals the electronic properties of which enable individuals to control and manipulate the use of electricity to enhance human senses and motive power ability. Modern transportation, communication, information gathering, recording, transmission, and display are universally available only because the electronic properties of the technology metals and materials have allowed for their miniaturization and control .
The core technology metal is copper without which we could not produce, distribute, and utilize electricity to replace other forms of power application at wherever we want it. The industrial revolution was built upon iron, steel, and steam. There is no substitute for steel, but electricity has replaced steam, and ironically the production of copper itself is dependent on electricity (copper is purified by electrolysis). Until the advent of government sponsored research in World Wars I and II, the principal resource drivers of the industrial revolution were coal, oil, iron, and copper with just a few allowing elements for strengthening steel in the mix. The age of technology metals in which we now live began in earnest during World War II and grew exponentially in the generation following the end of that war. The semi-conductor “metals”, silicon and germanium allowed the miniaturization of the detection of electromagnetic waves and more importantly the switching of large currents without the need for mechanical switches. Simultaneously the cauldron of war produced uranium and plutonium in bulk so that not only the production of the ultimate weapons could be done but a new era of non fossil fuel produced heat (to make steam and electricity) could be born.
In the 25 years following the war the periodic table was finally closed for all of the naturally occurring elements and chemists gave metallurgists alloying and physicists a new spectrum of previously exotic chemical elements the properties of the alloys and compounds of which allowed the mass miniaturization of consumer electrical and electronic products. These key technology metals and materials included gallium, indium, arsenic, antimony, tellurium, the rare earths, lithium, and engineered graphite (carbon). Recently nickel and cobalt have also moved from just being alloying elements to being electronically significant element for magnets and batteries. It is the same for zirconium and hafnium in nuclear power generation and electronics.
If any significant proportion of the elements named in the paragraph above were not available commercially then the world would revert to the standard of living or at least the lifestyles prevalent in 1939. Contrast that world with our own and you will understand why we now live in the age of technology metals.
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Jack Lifton is the Sr. Editor for InvestorIntel Corp. and is the CEO for Jack Lifton, LLC. He is also a consultant, author, and lecturer ... <Read more about Jack Lifton>