Silica (also known as silicon dioxide [SiO2]) is one of the most common chemical compounds in our universe. It is most commonly observed in the form of sand or quartz. It is used to make glass and many other things, but the most important use—as it pertains to this series of books—is its use in microelectronic component manufacture. Without silica there could not have been a quantum leap in computer technology. And it is within the confines of that technology that our story begins.