Is Silicon a Metal, a Nonmetal or a Metalloid?


Quick Answer

Silicon is a metalloid, a semimetallic element that is neither a metal nor a nonmetal but has some of the properties or characteristics of the two. A semi-metal in the periodic table, silicon is one of the elements that can't be found in nature in its elemental form. It is also one of the most common elements in nature, accounting for about 28 percent of the earth's crust by mass.

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Silicon can be produced by heating silica with coke or charcoal carbon. The resulting reaction is what makes the shiny semimetallic metalloid generally used to make computer chips. Silicon is gray in room temperature, has a high melting and boiling point and has a metallic luster. It makes a great conductor of heat, which resembles the characteristic of metal, but it is not as good a conductor compared to other metallic elements. Like boron, however, silicon is a bad conductor of current, which is why both elements are considered as semi-conductors.

Silica or silicon dioxide is a three-dimensional network of silicon atoms linked by oxygen. It is the most common substance on earth and is widely distributed in sand and rocks. Beach sand is almost a pure form of crystalline silica. Other sources of silica are quartz, opal, amethyst, flint, agate and rock crystals.

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