Illustration of Silicon

1823 Silicon

The book of science

Tom Sharp

StockholmJöns Jacob Berzelius elements Illustration of Silicon


Antoine Lavoisier predicted in 1787 that silica was an oxide of a new element. Humphry Davy agreed with Lavoisier in 1808 but was not able to isolate it. Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac and Louis Jacques Thénard might have obtained an impure amorphous silicon in 1811. Davy thought it was a metal so he suggesting naming it silicium. Thomas Thomson thought it was a non-metal like carbon, so he suggested silicon. In 1823, Jöns Jacob Berzelius started with the process that Gay-Lussac and Thénard used but purified the resulting brown powder by repeated washing to obtain pure silicon.

Atomic number 14

Silica, silicon dioxide, makes quartz and substrates for computer chips. Silicate minerals make sand and 90 percent of the earth’s crust.

Not a metal

Silicone oven gloves impervious to hot casseroles don’t seem like metal Silicone caulking gooey but resilient when dried don’t seem like metal Silicon dioxide sand squishy under bare feet don’t seem like metal Silicon computer chips semiconducting quick transitions don’t seem like metal


Neither fish nor fowl both here and there on the fence and out of the closet, I might be talking about you you and your friends praising your ambiguity how you challenge everyone to observe and to think.

Silicon, like boron, silicon, germanium, arsenic, antimony, and tellurium, is commonly recognized as a metalloid. Pure silicon can have a metallic form, but it is not useful as a metal in this form.

See also in The book of science:

Readings in wikipedia:

Other readings:

  • Silicon,” Elementymology & Elements Multidict, by Peter van der Krogt