Space & Innovation

Silicon and Silicone Are Not The Same Thing

These two separate materials are both all around us.

Silicon and silicone look like they're practically the same word, but in reality they're two totally different substances. Silicon is a naturally occurring element -- the 14th element on the periodic table to be exact -- while silicone is a synthetic substance found in all sorts of household products we use everyday.

Silicon is one of the most plentiful elements in the Earth's crust, although it's not typically found in its pure form. It's more commonly found as silica, also known as quartz, the most common element in sand, according to Live Science.

Modern electronics frequently use silicon because it's an excellent semiconductor of electricity. That's how the southern peninsula of the San Francisco Bay Area got the nickname Silicon Valley. Many tech companies got their start developing and producing silicon-based chips and semiconductors found in devices like computers and phones.

Silicone usually appears in liquid form or as a malleable, rubbery plastic. It's very useful in medical equipment, as well as cookware, because it has a low toxicity and is very heat resistant.

As you might have guessed, silicone is made from silicon, but also includes oxygen and most typically carbon and hydrogen. While many people think of silicone as something mostly used in breast implants, the reality is that silicone is in almost every product around us. Besides medical equipment and cookware, it's used in lubricants for automotive parts and many shampoos and shaving creams, as well as a watertight sealant for things like aquariums.

So while silicon and silicone might be totally different materials, they're both all around us in more ways than you may realize.

via LiveScience

Want to learn more about the companies that use silicon in their products? Check out 'What Are The Biggest Companies in the World?' to learn more.