A calm evening at the Loch Ness beach in Inverness. Quartz or silica, containing Silicon and oxygen, is a common constituent of sand found in most beaches around the world.

Facts about Silicon:

  • Silicon: Crystalline solid: hard, brittle, and metallic. Has a greyish shiny texture. On polished single crystalline surfaces e.g. Silicon wafers, you can actually see your reflection like a mirror!
  • Fun fact about Silicon: Silicon is actually the second most abundant element in the crust of the earth.  By mass percentage, Silicon is close to 28 % by mass. Because of its role in modern electronics (semiconducting Silicon is an essential component of many electronic devices), the current Information Age is also sometimes known as the Silicon Age!
  • Chemical symbol: Si
  • Atomic number: 14

A crystal structure containing Silicon:

Crystal structure of  olivine - a magnesium iron silicate, known for its characteristic structure, beautiful colour, and applications in CO2 sequestration

Facts about this structure:

  • Formula: Fe0.26 Mg1.74 O4 Si
  • Structure name: Magnesium Iron Silicate
  • Fun fact about the structure: The crystal structure of olivine has played a crucial role in shaping the energy revolution of the twenty first century. Modern Li ion batteries use Lithium Iron Phosphate as a positive electrode, which also has this same structure. 
  • ICSD number: 66183 (Find out more about the ICSD database)
  • Associated publication: T. Motoyama, T. Matsumoto, Mineralogical Journal,  1989, 14, 338, DOI: 10.2465/minerj.14.338

More info:

Silicon is one of the most important elements in the periodic table. From its abundance in the earth's crust to its quintessential presence in modern electronic devices - Silicon has been with the human race since its earliest stages of development.  Named originally by Sir Humphry Davy, Silicon was first isolated by Jons Jacob Berzelius in the early nineteenth century. The twentieth century saw development of MOSFET (metal oxide silicon field effect transistors).  Silicon is used in steel production as well in the manufacture of abrasives.  Ferrosilicon is an important alloy in metallurgical industry.  Today there are silicon valleys, forests, hills, glens, and fens in different parts of the developed world bearing witness to the importance of the element in our lives.  

More info about the International Year of the Periodic Table (IYPT) in crystals project:

This project (#IYPTCrystals) is part of the International Year of the Periodic Table celebration (#IYPT2019), read more about the project here. You can follow us on social media using #IYPTCrystals and learn more about the wonders of crystals by following the CCDC on Twitter @ccdc_cambridge on Facebook ccdc.cambridge, on Instagram ccdc_cambridge or on YouTube CCDCCambridge.

If you want to find out more about some of the terms and concepts we have a Frequently Asked Questions Page.

A visualisation showing the structure containing Silicon alongside other structures published in the same scientific article: