Who Discovered It? Discover Who Found What & When
ScienceDiseasesGeographyAstronomyChemical ElementsMiscellaneous

Who Discovered Silicon?

Posted In: Chemical Elements. Bookmark and Share

Silicon is an element important in biological systems as well as being useful to various industries. It is classified as a metalloid, meaning it has properties of metals and non-metals. By mass, it is quite plentiful, ranking eighth amongst all of the elements known to man in the universe. Like so many of the other elements, its discovery was more of a collaboration of different people discovering different characteristics and facts about the element, as opposed to one person elucidating the element in its entirety.

Silicon elementSilicon’s atomic mass is 28.0855 and has an atomic number of 14.

Antoine Lavoisier

Antoine Lavoisier, a noted scientist, was the first person to identify silicon as a component of a compound he was working with in 1787. This compound in which silicon was found is known presently as silicate. In 1800, British chemist Humphry Davy proclaimed silicon a compound, not an element as Lavoisier insisted. It took twenty-four years to straighten out this misconception attributed to Davy. In 1824, Berzelius, another chemist was able to isolate silicon and purify it by repeated washings to prove its existence as an element.

Antoine Lavoisier and Jöns Jakob BerzeliusAntoine Lavoisier was the first to identify silicon and Jöns Jakob Berzelius was successful in isolating it to prove it is an element.

Further discoveries were made

After being properly isolated in 1824, scientists were free to get to experiment on the newly isolated element to find out what it was (or was not) able to do or contribute to. It is actually a very important and useful element, making possible many items taken for granted by the present day consumers. It plays an important role in the production of items such as glass, cement and ceramics, to name a few common items. Also, it has the ability to conduct electricity at high temperatures, which makes it the most obvious choice for a material from which microchips can be made.

Connection between silicon and Silicon Valley

Hence, because an area in central California is home to many of the major manufacturers and other companies in the high technology gadget market, it was dubbed Silicon Valley in honor of the element that made all of their electronics possible and profitable. Another use for silicon that has only come into vogue in the last few decades is cooking utensils and pans. Because of its high melting point, silicon makes a rather indestructible cookie sheet, loaf pan, cupcake forms, spatulas, flippers and other kitchen items that can easily be ruined by high heat. No doubt, as time progresses, science will as well, and there will be even more uses found for this durable and important element.