What Is The Difference Between Silicone And Silicon?


May 2, 2022

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The difference between silicone and silicon lies in just not the spelling; they are two different materials, with only one used in making semiconductors and the double side polish wafer.  

silicone medical implants

Silicon vs Silicone

What Is Silicon?

Silicon is a naturally occurring element. It has an atomic mass of 14 and binds with several of its fellow elements to form stones like silica and quartz. Silicon is also one of the most abundant resources on the Earth and has been used by ancient civilizations in its silicon dioxide form.  

The Swedish chemist Jöns Jacob Berzelius extracted the first pure silicon powder in 1824 through a heating process involving potassium fluorosilicate and potassium to produce potassium silicide. Berzelius added the resulting powder to water to isolate pure silicon.

Silicon is a natural semiconductor. It can both conduct electricity and shield devices from electrical interference. Silicon’s conductivity properties lie between that of a proper conductor and an insulator. This means that you have to increase its conductivity through doping or adding elements like boron, aluminum, or arsenic.

What is Silicone?  

On the other hand, silicone is a synthetic that combines natural silicon with oxygen. Some silicone products may also include carbon and hydrogen in the inorganic bond.  

Manufacturers first isolate pure silicon from quartz sand. They then subject pure silicon to multiple heating procedures to produce polydimethylsiloxane, the raw silicone material. Polydimethylsiloxane goes through a polymerization process to create the final product.  

Silicone is a heat-resistant and waterproof material with low toxicity and conductivity. It can also withstand cold as low as -140 degrees Fahrenheit. As a result, the synthetic found use in various industries. You can find silicone products in both liquid and plastic forms. These products include:

  • Shampoo and soaps
  • Medical implants
  • Sealants and adhesives
  • Non-stick cooking utensils
  • Electrical and thermal insulation
  • Food boxes
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