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What are the common uses of silicon?

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Common uses of silicon are to provide the crystals that are used in computer chips. Silicon is also used in transistors, solid-state mechanisms, integrated circuits and solar cells.

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Silicon, as silicone, is used to make both the shells and the filling for soft breast implants. Silicone can also be used to make contact lenses and fireworks.

One of the most common and important uses for silicon is to make glass. Glassmaking utilizes silicon in its form as sand, or silica. Silica is also used to make porcelain and other types of ceramics and is an ingredient in concrete and Portland cement. It's also used to make fire brick, a type of brick that can withstand high temperatures and so is used to line fireplaces and kilns.

When silicon is alloyed to cast iron, it creates a more durable form of steel. It can also be alloyed with aluminum to produce molds for car parts. When small amounts of other elements are added to it, silicon is an effective semi-conductor.

Silicon, which has an atomic number of 14, is a lustrous, silvery metalloid. Though it's the second most abundant element in the Earth's crust after oxygen, it's rarely found in a free state. Its importance to biological life is also largely incidental.

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