Related topics: solar cells · transistors · graphene · nanowires · electrons

For first time, carbon nanotube transistors outperform silicon

For decades, scientists have tried to harness the unique properties of carbon nanotubes to create high-performance electronics that are faster or consume less power—resulting in longer battery life, faster wireless communication ...

Exceptionally strong and lightweight new metal created

A team led by researchers from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science has created a super-strong yet light structural metal with extremely high specific strength and modulus, or stiffness-to-weight ...

Researchers make key improvement in solar cell technology

Researchers have reached a critical milestone in solar cell fabrication, helping pave the way for solar energy to directly compete with electricity generated by conventional energy sources.

Researchers build a particle accelerator that fits on a chip

On a hillside above Stanford University, the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory operates a scientific instrument nearly 2 miles long. In this giant accelerator, a stream of electrons flows through a vacuum pipe, as bursts ...

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Silicon

Silicon (pronounced /ˈsɪlɨkən/ or /ˈsɪlɨkɒn/, Latin: silicium) is the most common metalloid. It is a chemical element, which has the symbol Si and atomic number 14. The atomic mass is 28.0855. A tetravalent metalloid, silicon is less reactive than its chemical analog carbon. As the eighth most common element in the universe by mass, silicon very rarely occurs as the pure free element in nature, but is more widely distributed in dusts, planetoids and planets as various forms of silicon dioxide (silica) or silicates. On Earth, silicon is the second most abundant element (after oxygen) in the crust, making up 25.7% of the crust by mass.

Silicon has many industrial uses. It is the principal component of most semiconductor devices, most importantly integrated circuits or microchips. Silicon is widely used in semiconductors because it remains a semiconductor at higher temperatures than the semiconductor germanium and because its native oxide is easily grown in a furnace and forms a better semiconductor/dielectric interface than any other material.

In the form of silica and silicates, silicon forms useful glasses, cements, and ceramics. It is also a constituent of silicones, a class-name for various synthetic plastic substances made of silicon, oxygen, carbon and hydrogen, often confused with silicon itself.

Silicon is an essential element in biology, although only tiny traces of it appear to be required by animals. It is much more important to the metabolism of plants, particularly many grasses, and silicic acid (a type of silica) forms the basis of the striking array of protective shells of the microscopic diatoms.

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