What’s in your laptop? - variety of materials used in manufacturing

Materials World magazine
3 Jun 2013

How many different materials are used to manufacture a laptop?








  • Liquid crystal – this makes no light of its own so LEDs are used
  • LEDs contain tiny amounts of arsenic and gallium sealed in hard plastic
  • Screen is coated with indium
  • Rare earth elements europium, terbium, yttrium, lanthanum, praseodymium, and neodium give the screen its colours 



  • A mix of metal, ceramics and plastics are used inside the laptop
  • Copper is used to route electricity from power sources to other components
  • The laptop’s processor is the most expensive part. It is comprised of silicon, oxygen and traces of arsenic, boron and phosphorus.
  • The trace elements cause the silicon to favour either positive or negative electric charges
  • Boron and phosphorus enhance the performance of the motherboard by altering the number of free electrons
  • Lithium – this element is used in rechargeable batteries, preventing the need for heavier materials and improving the laptop’s battery life.
  • The most powerful models use tiny motors made with a neodymium-iron-boron alloy magnet to power the hard drive. These are the strongest permanent magnets on the market
  • Transistors – indium is used to dope germanium for these semiconductor components
  • Silicon is the main material used for chips and random access memory (RAM)



  • Metals including steel and aluminium
  • Plastics including hydrocarbon materials made of hydrogen, carbon, silicon, phosphorus