Difference between Silicon and Silicone

Published on November 14, 2016

One is used in cosmetic surgery; the other is named after a rather famous valley in California. One is a naturally occurring element, while the other one is a synthetic compound. Let us highlight more of their differences.


Silicon vs Silicone
An integrated chipboard uses semiconductors made of silicon.

Silicon is rarely found as a pure element, but it is one of the most common elements in the universe in terms of mass. It is the second most abundant element (next to oxygen) under the Earth’s crust. The Earth’s crust is 90 percent silicate materials that form rocks.

Silicon has many commercial uses and requires minimal processing. Construction materials such as clays, stone and silica sand make use of silicon. Cement used for foundations, walkways and roads all contain silicon components. Porcelain and many specialty glasses are made of silicates. High-strength ceramics and abrasives make use of silicon carbide.

Elemental silicon also plays an important role in today’s world market. Highly purified silicon is a crucial component in semiconductors used in integrated circuits for electronic devices such as computers, laptops, cell phones, etc. Modern technology is largely dependent on integrated circuits. Silicon is also used in steel refining and aluminum casting.

Recent studies on silicon have shown improved disease, pest and drought resistance, crop yields and general health among plants. In humans, studies also show the benefits of silicon on hair, nails, skin and bone health.

Rubber sealants are stronger due to its silicone content.

Silicone is a synthetic compound made up of alternating oxygen atoms and silicon atoms usually joined by carbon and hydrogen. Silicone is usually resistant to heat and elastic, making it a main component in adhesives, sealants, lubricants, cooking utensils, insulation and even medicine. It comes in several forms such as silicone oil, grease, rubber, caulk and resin.

Silicone has many beneficial properties put to use in a wide range of real-world applications. In the auto industry, silicone grease is valued as a good lubricant and heat-resistant material, making it stable at high temperatures. It is also used in brake fluid. Silicone coatings on spark plug wires prevent sparks from going to other wires, thus avoiding misfires. Silicone rubber is used on life-saving, high-impact airbags as sealants and coatings.

Silicone can cover electronic parts as protection from electrical and mechanical shock. It is used in sophisticated electronic components in space satellites as protection from harsh conditions.

Silicon vs Silicone

So, what’s the difference between silicon and silicone? Silicon is a chemical element that occurs naturally beneath the Earth’s crust. In contrast, silicone is a synthetic compound created by design.
Silicon is an important material in the modern world. It is used in refining steel and aluminum casting as well as constructing roads and walkways. Silicon is an ideal semiconductor used in integrated circuits found in computers, cell phones, cameras and any electronic device that has a microchip.

Silicone’s high resistance to heat makes it an ideal insulating material. It is used to provide electrical insulation. Its tough and elastic properties are the main reasons it acts as a sealant on high-impact airbags. It can also be found as an ingredient in shampoos, lubricants and shaving creams.

Comparison Chart

Silicon Silicone
Naturally found under the Earth’s crust. Chemically produced.
An ideal semiconductor in integrated circuits. A durable sealant used on sensitive electronics.