Showing posts with label Silicon Valley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Silicon Valley. Show all posts

Aug 2, 2013

Silicon vs. Silicone

Silicon is a naturally occurring chemical element, and silicone is synthetic.

Silicon has properties of both metals and nonmetals and is the second most abundant element in the Earth's crust, after oxygen. It  is rarely found in nature in its pure form. We usually find silicon dioxide or silica, better known as quartz, the most common component of sand.

As silica, silicon is a key ingredient in bricks, concrete and glass. As silicate, it is used to make enamels, pottery and ceramics. It is also used widely in modern electronics, because it is an ideal semiconductor of electricity. When heated into a molten state, silicon is formed into semi-conductive wafers, which serve as the base for integrated circuits. Silicon Valley, California was named due to the high concentration of computer and electronics companies in the area producing silicon-based semiconductors and chips.

Silicone is a synthetic polymer made up of silicon, oxygen, and other elements, typically carbon and hydrogen. Silicone is generally a liquid or flexible plastic. Its useful properties are low toxicity and high heat resistance. It also provides good electrical insulation.

In the medical field, silicone can be found in implants, catheters, contact lenses, bandages and more. It is also contained in items, such as shampoos, shaving cream, non-stick kitchenware, personal and automotive lubricants, sealants, and sex toys. Silicone is heat resistant and slippery.

Silicone is also used in electronics to make casings that can shield sensitive devices from electrical shocks and other hazards.