Electronics & Semiconductors

Researchers isolate single artificial atoms in silicon

Silicon has proved to be a highly valuable and reliable material for fabricating a variety of technologies, including quantum devices. In recent years, researchers have also been investigating the possible advantages of using ...


Microscanner mirrors replace human vision

In autonomous vehicles, advanced technology takes the wheel, allowing passengers to sit back and enjoy the ride. Yet such systems have to meet stringent safety standards. For example, an autonomous vehicle must be able to ...


Amazon's Zoox unveils autonomous electric vehicle

An autonomous vehicle company acquired this year by Amazon has unveiled a four-person "robo-taxi," a compact, multidirectional vehicle designed for dense, urban environments.


Moroccan geeks flock to 'paradise for hackers

With its rows of sleek computers and ultra-modern study methods, Morocco's 1337 campus is a dream come true for budding geeks, in a country where IT skills are in high demand.

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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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