Friday, November 4, 2022

Discovery of silicon

Silica (SiO2) in the form of sharp flints were among the first tools made by humans. The ancient civilizations used other forms of silica such as rock crystal, and knew how to turn sand into glass. The manufacture of glass containing silica was carried out both by the Egyptians—at least as early as 1500 BCE—and by the Phoenicians. In 1789, the French chemist Antoine Lavoisier proposed that a new chemical element could be found in quartz. He was right about the new element. Silicon accounts for 28% of the weight of Earth’s crust.

In 1808 in England, Humphry Davy isolated partly pure silicon for the first time, but he did not realize it. He was mistaken that the new chemical element as a compound rather than an element.

In 1811, Joseph Gay Lussac and Louis Jacques Thénard reacted silicon tetrachloride with potassium metal and produced some very impure form of silicon. They did not, however, attempt to purify this new substance.

In 1824, Swedish chemist Jacob Berzelius produced a sample of amorphous silicon, a brown solid, by reacting potassium fluorosilicate with potassium and purifying the product by stirring it with water, with which it reacts, and thereby obtained relatively pure silicon powder. He named the new element silicium. Today, silicon is produced by heating sand (SiO2) with carbon to temperatures approaching 2200°C.

Silicon was given its name in 1831 by Scottish chemist Thomas Thomson. He retained part of Berzelius’s name, from ‘silicis,’ meaning flint. Flint is a type of hard rock that was used by many early civilizations to make tools and weapons.

In 1854, Henri Deville produced crystalline silicon for the first time. He first prepared crystalline silicon, the second allotropic form of the element.

1954 witnessed the creation of the first commercial silicon transistor. The creation of semiconductors most commonly uses sand as starting material because of its high percentage of silicon.
Discovery of silicon

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