Silicon underpins modern technology and has been a ubiquitous part of our lives since the 1950s, when the silicon chip was invented.
But although billions of silicon chips are produced each year, this only uses 5 percent of the world’s silicon production. The rest is used in glass, concrete, brick and silicone polymers.
In nature the most abundant compounds of silicon are feldspars, which are aluminosilicate materials, and quartz or silica, better known as sand.
In episode 75 of Elemental, Professor Allan Blackman from the Auckland University of Technology, introduces us silicates, silicones, silicas and many other permutations and uses of silicon.
The Elemental podcast is celebrating 150 years since the periodic table was first published by Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev.
Find out more about events during the United Nation’s International Year of the Periodic Table.
Professor Allan Blackman is at Auckland University of Technology.