Silicon vs. Silicone – What’s the difference?

Silicone is a chemical element created by humans. Silicon, on the other hand, is a natural product. 

Silicones are polymers that are composed of silicon, oxygen, and, in certain cases, carbon and hydrogen. Silicone materials can be found in different forms such as liquid, fluid, solid, or rubber.

Silicon is an element represented by the symbol “Si” and has the atomic number 14. And it’s is a hard, brittle crystalline solid. Moreover, the most famous application of silicon is making semiconductors. 

You’ve probably heard of silicon dioxide or silica, they’re the major component of sand. So, it occurs naturally in sand, glass (SiO2), and other silicates. 

Silicon

Silicon is the most electropositive element in the Earth’s crust. It’s a metallic-shiny brittle metalloid. And it is the second most common element on Earth (oxygen is the most common element). 

The electron configuration of silicon is right close to carbon, so it has similar properties, but the bonds are weaker. For that reason, it behaves differently.

Electron configuration of Silicon: [Ne] 3s23p2 

Electron configuration of Carbon: [Ne] 2s2 2p2 

Its molecules are often tetravalent, although they can also be bivalent, and its chemistry is electropositive.

Silicon is the reason for the development of computers you’re reading this on. Because it is required for microelectronics and computer chips.

Silicon is the fourteenth element. The 14th element in the Periodic Table, silicon, is the second most common element on Earth (oxygen is the most common element).

Silicon reacts easily with oxygen. Silicate minerals such as silica, feldspar, and mica are created when silicon and oxygen react with reactive metals. So, we can’t see pure silicon in nature. 

Silicon Applications

  • The majority is utilized in the production of aluminum-silicon and ferrosilicon alloys. (Used to make dynamos and transformer plates) 
  • Silicon is the main component of making silicones.
  • It is essential in technology because it is what creates semiconductors and transistors and integrated circuits. 
  • It’s a crucial constituent in bricks. 
  • It is used as an alloy component to improve the resistance of metals such as aluminum, magnesium, copper, and others. 
  • Photovoltaic cells use thin-cut slices of electronic-grade silicon crystals to directly convert solar energy. 
  • Large silicon crystals are used in piezoelectric glasses. 
  • Silicon glasses are made from melted quartz sands. 
  • As an electrical insulator in laboratories. 

Silicone

Silicones are polymers or heat-resistant liquids and are composed of repeated units of siloxane. It’s oils or rubber-like substances that are colorless. Silicone is a liquid or flexible rubber-like material. Even Silicone is a man-made product, it’s is non-toxic.

Silicon is composed of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and silicon. 

Silicone Rubber 

Silicon is a type of synthetic rubber. However, when it comes to plastics in general, silicone is a mix between synthetic rubber and synthetic polymer. 

Adding silicone to a rubber base results in a far more stable product that retains its elastic and insulating properties throughout a wide temperature range.

Because of greater energy costs, silicone is more expensive than other synthetic rubbers. Because of the significant energy expenses associated with its production.

To make silicone out of the sand, we need to convert the sand to high purity silica, then additional refinement of silica is needed before the chemical reactions that polymerize it.

Silicone rubber formulations contain both inorganic and organic components. Because silicone rubber is so flexible and resists high temperatures.

Advantages of Silicone Rubber

Silicone has numerous advantages over other types of rubber.

  • Silicone rubber outperforms natural rubber in terms of heat resistance and chemical stability. 
  • It’s a good electrical insulator. 
  • It has high-temperature resistance.

Silicone Applications

  • Silicones and rubber are used to make sealants, adhesives, and lubricants, O-rings, heat-resistant seals, caulks, gaskets, electrical insulators, flexible molds.
  • Because it is not chemically reactive, it’s used to make surgical implants.

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