12 Genius Ways People Use Crystals (And Some Dumb Ones)

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Vote for the brightest use for crystals, controversial or not

Crystal are essential components of many technologies. You'll probably be surprised to learn that crystals are powering devices that you use every single day. This list is full of uses for crystals. They are key components in machines which are necessary for our health and our modern communication methods.

Then there are also the "new age" uses for crystals. The jury is still out on whether crystal healing works, but there are lots of people who swear by it. Take a look at this list and decide what you think.

  • Satellites
    Photo: NOAA Photo Library / flickr / CC-BY 2.0
    5 VOTES


    Satellites use the same kind of quartz crystal oscillator that watches use. The crystal vibrates when an electric current passes through it, and that vibration is used to produce a precise frequency - the mechanism for satellite communication. Satellites are used for communication between aircraft or spacecraft, and stations on the ground.
    5 votes
  • Ultrasound Machines
    Photo: Christopher Porter / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0
    6 VOTES

    Ultrasound Machines

    Ultrasound waves are sound waves that bounce off of surfaces and come back in the direction from which they came. Humans can't hear them, but we can use them to see inside the human body, and we make ultrasound machines using crystals. When you send electricity through a crystal, it vibrates, producing ultrasound waves. Crystals can also detect ultrasound waves coming back to them - if an ultrasound wave hits a crystal, a burst of electricity will flow through it.
    6 votes
  • Watches
    Photo: Rick / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0
    5 VOTES


    Quartz crystals are what keep watches running without requiring a new battery. A watch battery sends electricity through a quartz crystal, and the crystal then oscillates. These oscillations are converted into even more electric pulses, which either power a digital display or drive an electric motor which spins the clock's hands.
    5 votes
  • Cigarette Lighters
    Photo: nicolicreer / flickr / CC-BY 2.0
    3 VOTES

    Cigarette Lighters

    Quartz crystal are used in many cigarette lighters. When you press the button on the lighter, you're squeezing a quartz crystal. The stressed crystal releases electricity, which then ignites the gas.
    3 votes
  • 5
    2 VOTES


    Sonar is a type of ultrasound system which is used by ships and submarines for navigation. A submarine will send out an ultrasound wave and wait for it to bounce back. The submarine can determine whether there are any nearby vessels or obstacles, based on how long the sound takes to bounce and return. Sonar waves are produced the same way that the sound waves in a medical ultrasound machine are produced.
    2 votes
  • Computer Chips
    Photo: Abgeda / flickr / CC-BY-ND 2.0
    3 VOTES

    Computer Chips

    All computer processors use silicon crystals, because silicon is the most abundant element which can be used as a transistor - a device that must be able to switch on and off at will. Silicon is used to make transistors because it is in the middle between a conductor, which passes electric current very easily, and an insulator, which does not pass current at all.
    3 votes