Facts About Silicon

Live Science | 4/26/2018 | Staff
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Silicon is the element to thank for the computer you're using to read these words. A crucial component in microelectronics and computer chips, this extremely common element is also responsible for warm, white beaches — silica, an oxide of silicon, is the most common component of sand.

Silicon is the seventh-most abundant element in the universe and the second-most abundant element on the planet, after oxygen, according to the Royal Society of Chemistry. About 25 percent of the Earth's crust is silicon. Besides computer chips, silicon has many uses; weirder spots where this element appears include menstrual cups, breast implants and oven mitts — in the form of silicone.

Silicon - Valley - California

What makes silicon so special that is has an entire valley in California named after it? Read on.

Silicon is the 14th element on the Periodic Table.

Nature - Silicon - Loner - Pair - Oxygen

In nature, silicon is no loner. It's usually found linked up with a pair of oxygen molecules as silicon dioxide, otherwise known as silica. Quartz, an abundant ingredient in sand, is made up of non-crystallized silica.

Silicon is neither metal nor non-metal; it's a metalloid, an element that falls somewhere between the two. The category of metalloid is something of a gray area, with no firm definition of what fits the bill, but metalloids generally have properties of both metals and non-metals. They look metallic, but conduct electricity only intermediately well. Silicon is a semiconductor, meaning that it does conduct electricity. Unlike a typical metal, however, silicon gets better at conducting electricity as the temperature increases (metals get worse at conductivity at higher temperatures).

Silicon - Chemist - Jöns - Jacob - Berzelius

Silicon was first isolated in 1824 by Swedish chemist Jöns Jacob Berzelius, who also discovered cerium, selenium and thorium, according to the Chemical Heritage Foundation. Berzelius heated silica with potassium to purify silicon, according to the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, but today the refinement process...
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