Energy & Green Tech

A blast of gas for better solar cells

Treating silicon with carbon dioxide gas in plasma processing brings simplicity and control to a key step for making solar cells.

Electronics & Semiconductors

Detecting early-stage failure in electric power conversion devices

Power electronics regulate and modify electric power. They are in computers, power steering systems, solar cells, and many other technologies. Researchers are seeking to enhance power electronics by using silicon carbide ...

Energy & Green Tech

Team extracts more energy from sunlight with advanced solar panels

Researchers working to maximize solar panel efficiency said layering advanced materials atop traditional silicon is a promising path to eke more energy out of sunlight. A new study shows that by using a precisely controlled ...

Business

Palantir listing may shine light on secretive Big Data firm

Perhaps the most secretive firm to emerge from Silicon Valley, Palantir Technologies is set for a stock market debut this month that may shed light on the Big Data firm specializing in law enforcement and national security.

Electronics & Semiconductors

Tandem devices feel the heat

Understanding how solar cell operation changes as it moves from the lab into the real world is essential for optimizing their design prior to mass production. KAUST researchers show how perovskite/silicon tandem solar cells ...

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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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