Nanowires made of silicon were used for many applications. The most notable was in batteries.
(Note: The background section of this page uses most of the same words as the silicon page of Terra Futura to save time.)
Glass had been known to humanity since ancient times. The first glass-blowers came from Mesopotamia around 3500 BC. The word glass is a Latin word that dares to the late Roman Empire. Quartz sand was often mixed with a flux to create the glass. When the glass was finished, it made stuff like windows. In churches during the Middle Ages, stained glass windows were visible and still are. They were also used in tv and computer screens. The most common glass until the 21st century was soda-lime glass. The fluxes were sodium dioxide and lime. Soda-lime glass was very common in windows, screens, and glasses. However, soda-lime glass could shatter into pieces. There was the need for a solution. The solution was gorilla glass.
In 1960, an early prototype to Gorilla Glass was made. It was called Chemcor Glass. Like Gorilla Glass, Chemcor Glass contained sand, aluminum, potassium, and sodium. It was used in race cars until the early 1990s. While working on the iPhone, Apple founder, Steve Jobs, had a problem. The plastic that was supposed to be used for the screen often got scratched. Looking for a solution, Steve Jobs contacted Corning where he learned about Chemcor Glass. This led Corning to develop a more advanced version called Gorilla Glass. This became commonplace in cell phones. More advanced versions came out in the second decade of the 21st century that were stronger, thinner, and more scratch-resistant. As time went on, Gorilla Glass became the most common glass in use. But the silicon in the glass was used for other purposes.
During the late 20th century, silicon was the most common material in the semiconductor industry. Transistors made of silicon used the atomic properties of silicon. Shrink it and it is still silicon. This allowed transistors to shrink in accordance with Moore's Law. As a result, more transistors could be placed on chips. In the early 21st century, Moore's Law started running out of steam. The laws of quantum mechanics were starting to create trouble. Intel slowed this with Tri-Gate Transistors. IBM had the idea of using nanowires.
Tech Level: 10
IBM's idea of using silicon nanowires for transistors failed. However, these nanowires could be used for other applications. The most notable was in lithium-ion batteries. Silicon nanowires covered a stainless steel anode. They could carry 10 times more lithium than graphite. This would prove useful when lithium-ion batteries replaced petroleum. Silicon nanowires might have supplemented carbon nanotubes, but they could never replace them. Silicon nanowires or any nanowire for that matter were never very common.