Engadget reports researchers at the University of Michigan have devised a method to make silicon from liquid metal. The technique is less energy intensive, it doesn't require extreme temperatures of over 1100°C, by coating a liquid gallium electrode with silicon tetrachloride, the researchers managed to create pure silicon crystals at just 82°C. The new technique holds promise for cheaper electronics chips as well as for cheaper solar cells.
While the crystals are currently small, bigger examples are at least theoretically possible with new metals or other refinements. Any eventual commercial success could lead to much easier, and likely cheaper, manufacturing for processors and solar cells; given that silicon still forms the backbone of most technology, real-world use can't come quickly enough.