Photo credit: Flickr/Damian Gadal 

America's fracking boom has opened up many new opportunities for investors. One opportunity is proppants, which are tiny grains of sand or ceramic materials used to prop open the fractures deep within the earth so that oil and gas can be produced. Companies like Hi-Crush Partners (NYSE:HCLP) and U.S. Silica (NYSE:SLCA) both produce sand proppants, while CARBO Ceramics (NYSE:CRR) is a leader in producing ceramic proppants.

Overall, the energy industry is using more proppants as these are proving to be a key ingredient to extracting greater quantities of oil and gas from tight rocks. That trend is only expected to continue as American energy companies drill more wells. It's a trend that could turn into a very profitable one for investors.

To help investors gain a better understanding on proppants in general, as well as the companies profiting from them, I created the slideshow below. The presentation also details a difference between Hi-Crush Partners and U.S. Silica that explains why Hi-Crush Partners' dividend yield is so large as well as the technological advantage of CARBO Ceramics' proppants.