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Silicon is a semiconductor metalloid (falling between metals and nonmetals on the periodic table) chemical element. Its atomic number is 14 and its symbol is Si. It is the 8th most common element by mass. (Silicon makes up 27.7% of the Earth’s crust.) It was identified by French chemist Antoine Lavoisier (the “father of modern chemistry,” who also named oxygen, hydrogen, helped develop the metric system, compiled a list of chemical elements, among many other accomplishments) in 1787.

Though it occasionally occurs as a gray metallic crystal in nature, it is most commonly found in sand and other materials as silicon dioxide (silica). it is essential to plants, with traces also occuring in animal metabolisms.

Silicon is used to make integrated circuit chips because it remains a semiconductor at higher temperatures than other materials and is easily “grown” in a furnace.

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