|Orpiment (arsenic sulfide)|
But arsenic finds its way into a lot of other critical but low-volume uses. It strengthens grids in lead-acid batteries, combines with other metals in some ammunition, and is a vital component of semiconductors in solar cells, circuit boards, and telecommunication electronics. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in computers, CD players, and numerous other household electronic devices contain gallium arsenide phosphide in tiny amounts. Two pounds of gallium arsenide can make 500,000 LEDs.
There are some arsenic ore minerals, mostly arsenic sulfides like lemon-yellow orpiment and red-orange realgar, but the primary ore is arsenopyrite, iron arsenic sulfide. It is also common in other minerals mined for elements like copper, and arsenic contributes significantly to environmental problems in copper-mining regions.
All US arsenic is imported. 86% of arsenic metal comes to the United States from China, which produces about half the world’s arsenic.
Orpiment photo from USGS via Wikipedia (public domain).