Silicon is an interesting element. It can look like a metal, or not. It doesn’t conduct electricity very well, yet it is an important component in high-tech devices. Silicon isn’t found “freely” in nature. And the high use of this substance has given some cities their names. Let’s explore the world of Silicon further to see what other Silicony facts we can discover.
In 1789, a French chemist (Antoine Lavoisier) had a hunch that a new element may lie hidden inside of the substance, quartz. Scientists were intrigued by this notion and did their own research. However, it wasn’t until 1824 when a Swedish chemist (Jons Jakob Berzelius) first isolated and produced a sample of the Silicon element.
Silicon’s name is derived from the latin language; silicius, meaning “flint.” This mineral is known to contain Silicon.
Where is Silicon Found?
Silicon is found in the Earth’s crust. In fact, 28 percent of it is Silicon. This element is also found in silicate minerals, which comprises a whopping 90 percent of Earth’s crust.
Another common compound of Silicon is silica. This is found in sand, flint and quartz. In addition, Silicon is also found in plenty of rocks and minerals like talc, granite, clay, mica, diorite and asbestos. It can even be found in precious stones like amethysts, opals and agates.
What is Silicon Used For?
You may be surprised to learn all the uses of this important element. Check out the things Silicon is used for;
- Silicone; this is a compound of Silicon and is used in the making of grease and other lubricants, waterproofing materials, rubber materials and caulking
- Metal Alloys; Silicon along with aluminium, steel and iron
- Electronics; used as a semiconductor in the “brains” or chips of computers, cell phones and other techy stuff.
- Glass; a compound of Silicon known as silicate is used in the manufacturing of glass.
Silicon to the Stars
Silicon is the 8th most abundant element found in the Universe. In fact, when super-large stars (bigger than our Sun) begin to die off they enter a stage where they burn off all their carbon. When this happens, helium nuclei is added to the carbon and the end result is Silicon (plus, neon, oxygen and magnesium). This is the last phase in a star’s life that lasts only about a day before it goes supernova.
The Fun Facts About Silicon ~ Did You Know…
- the Atomic number for Silicon is 14 and its symbol is Si?
- breathing in Silicon dust can be dangerous and toxic?
- Silicon is in the form of a solid at room temperature?
- this element will melt at 2,577 degrees Fahrenheit (1,414 degrees Celsius)?
- a Silicon disk was left on the moon by the Apollo 11 crew in 1969? Inscribed on this silver dollar-sized disk are 73 microscopic messages from different countries, all wishing good luck to the astronauts.
- Plants use Silicon to strengthen their cell walls, making them more resistance to disease?
- Silicon Valley is a real place? They got this name because of all the Silicon used for electronic devices.
Try This ~ A Fun Experiment With Silicon
It’s always fun to see chemicals at work, so try this easy experiment to see how Silicon can keep sand from getting wet.
You Will Need:
- Big piece of cardboard
- Silicon Spray
- 2 clear plastic glasses or wide-mouth containers
First, pour the sand on the cardboard in an even layer (not too thick). Spray the sand with the Silicon Spray. Mix it well and spray again. Now let the sand sit for 12 hours in a safe place.
Once the Silicon Spray has dried onto the sand, take your 2 glasses and fill them half-full with water. Now add your sand to one glass. How does the sand appear underwater? It should still look dry. Prove this theory by pouring the sand from one glass to the other.
The Science Behind the Fun
The Silicon spray you used has made the sand repel the water molecules. This is called; hydrophobic, or “a fear of water.” Regular sand on the beach is called hydrophilic, “or likes the water,” because it absorbs the water molecules.
Now that you have learned all about Silicon and how important it is, go out and impress your friends and family with these fun facts. They may just think you are a master of Silicon-sense with all these fascinating factoids.