Editorial Feature

How Are Semiconductors Used in Mining?

The mining industry remains one of the most important industries in the world today. The raw materials necessary for the construction of infrastructures, the development of new approaches in healthcare, and the discovery of alternative sources of energy can all be derived from mining. For many countries, it is also one of the primary industries driving the economy forward, whether through research and development or the export of mined minerals across the globe.

However, it is not without its faults, with one of the main points of concern being the safety of miners who face plenty of danger in their workday. As well as developments in sustainable mining and underground exploration and excavation, worker safety must be a central focus for research - enter semiconductors.


Image Credit: Vyacheslav Svetlichnyy/Shutterstock.com

What Are Semiconductors?

Semiconductors are materials with conductivity falling between that of conductors and insulators. They are mostly used in electronic circuits and have been instrumental in driving advances in areas such as communication, computing, transportation, and healthcare. Due to semiconductors’ countless applications in electronics, they are also instrumental in the development and advancement of modern technology such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and automation.

Semiconductors such as silicon and metal oxides are also widely used in modern-day sensors, including temperature, carbon dioxide, and gas sensors. These sensors have applications not only in electronics, but also in plant physiology, indoor air quality measurement, and, importantly of mining, fire detection.

Semiconductor Gas Sensors in Coal Mines

To help ensure the safety of miners, gas sensors can be used for underground fire detection. This is important to ensure miners do not become trapped in the event of a fire while working underground. Smoldering fires, which can happen at any time in a coal mine, are characterized by the outgassing of carbon dioxide and ethylene. Semiconductor gas sensors can be used to detect any sign of smoldering and alert workers to either extinguish the fire or evacuate the area. The introduction of these sensors has helped minimize deaths resulting from the entrapment of workers underground due to fire.

Metal Oxide Semiconductor Sensors in Electronic Noses (E-Noses) for Air Contaminant Monitoring

Fire is not the only hazard found in mines; there is the danger of striking something underground that can lead to a gas leak and, given that most mines are airtight, this poses a considerable threat to the miners. A possible way to detect the presence of dangerous gases in the environment is with the use of electronic noses. Electronic noses, or e-noses, are designed to emulate mammalian or human noses to assess odorants in the environment. While e-noses are mostly used for assessing food quality and fragrance testing, they are also applicable in environmental scanning and the detection of harmful gases. Many e-noses make use of metal oxide semiconductor sensors and are another example of the semiconductor usage in the mining industry.


The previous examples mostly refer to specific uses of semiconductors in mining, but due to the extent semiconductors are used in our daily lives it should be no surprise that they are present in many more aspects of mining. Semiconductors can be found in communication devices and the electronic and energy-generating mechanisms used in mines. Semiconductors are still widely studied and, as we move into the future, it is certain that new applications will be found, not only in the mining industry but in all the different aspects of our lives.

Sources and Further Reading

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Miranda, Gaea Marelle. (2020, August 18). How Are Semiconductors Used in Mining?. AZoMining. Retrieved on June 23, 2024 from https://www.azomining.com/Article.aspx?ArticleID=1463.

  • MLA

    Miranda, Gaea Marelle. "How Are Semiconductors Used in Mining?". AZoMining. 23 June 2024. <https://www.azomining.com/Article.aspx?ArticleID=1463>.

  • Chicago

    Miranda, Gaea Marelle. "How Are Semiconductors Used in Mining?". AZoMining. https://www.azomining.com/Article.aspx?ArticleID=1463. (accessed June 23, 2024).

  • Harvard

    Miranda, Gaea Marelle. 2020. How Are Semiconductors Used in Mining?. AZoMining, viewed 23 June 2024, https://www.azomining.com/Article.aspx?ArticleID=1463.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this article?

Leave your feedback
Your comment type

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.