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KCaSilicon Isotope DataScTiVCrMnFeCoNiCuZnGaGeAsSeBrKr
RbSrYZrNbMoTcRuRhPdAgCdInSnSbTeIXe
CsBaLaCePrNdPmSmEuGdTbDyHoErTmYbLuHfTaWReOsIrPtAuHgTlPbBiPoAtRn
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Silicon     

Silicon

Atomic Weight 28.0855
Density 2.33 g/cm3
Melting Point 1414 °C
Boiling Point 2.9×103 °C
Full technical data

The first stage of silicon refining produces this irregular blob. After additional purification the silicon is grown into large single crystals to be cut into wafers, after which computer chips are etched onto the surface.

Scroll down to see examples of Silicon.
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Silicon Small chunks of silicon

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Small chunks of silicon.
Small broken crystals of silicon.
Source: Unknown
Contributor: Unknown
Acquired: 31 October, 2009
Text Updated: 31 October, 2009
Price: Unknown
Size: 0.5"
Purity: >99.99%
Silicon Silicone implant

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Silicone implant.
This is the ultimate "silicone is not silicon" sample. Yes, it's a silicone implant. If you don't know what it's for, you're probably too young to know.
Source: Max Whitby of RGB
Contributor: Max Whitby of RGB
Acquired: 17 April, 2009
Text Updated: 23 November, 2009
Price: Donated
Size: 5"
Purity: <37%
Sample Group: Medical
Silicon Weird boule top

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Weird boule top.
Silicon crystallizes into a four-sided cubic structure, which can be seen in the crease lines on the tops of silicon boules, which always have four creases. This one has nine. That is utterly inexplicable to me.
Source: Andrew Goodall
Contributor: Andrew Goodall
Acquired: 8 April, 2009
Text Updated: 9 April, 2009
Price: Donated
Size: 5"
Purity: 99.9999%
Silicon Silicone oven mitt

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Silicone oven mitt.
Another example of silicone that is not silicon. This oven mitt shows off the fact that pure silicone rubber is very heat-resistant.
Source: Kitchen Store
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 2 April, 2009
Text Updated: 7 April, 2009
Price: $15
Size: 12"
Purity: <37%
Silicon Silicone brush

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Silicone brush.
Another example of silicone that is not silicon. A brush used for brushing seasoning on hot food.
Source: Kitchen Store
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 2 April, 2009
Text Updated: 3 April, 2009
Price: $8
Size: 3"
Purity: <37%
Silicon Silicone candy mold

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Silicone candy mold.
Another example of silicone that is not silicon. This is a pretty little candy mold made of silicone rubber.
Source: Kitchen Store
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 2 April, 2009
Text Updated: 3 April, 2009
Price: $2
Size: 1"
Purity: <37%
Silicon Silicon carbide owl

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Silicon carbide owl.
Silicon carbide is a very hard material often used in sandpaper and sharpening stones. This rather peculiar owl came from an eBay seller who said it was made at a carbide factory from leftover silicon carbide material. It seems they periodically make sculptures like this for fun. It is incredibly sparkly, and obviously abrasive, I'm sure you could sharpen knives on it.
Source: eBay seller silysavg
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 24 March, 2009
Text Updated: 24 March, 2009
Price: $36
Size: 6.5"
Purity: 70%
Silicon Silicone pot gripper

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Silicone pot gripper.
Silicone, not silicon. There's a difference.
Source: Walmart
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 24 March, 2009
Text Updated: 24 March, 2009
Price: $3
Size: 4"
Purity: <37%
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Silicon Silicon with crucible

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Silicon with crucible.
Polycrystalline silicon still attached to the quartz crucible it was melted in. Bad day at the factory I imagine.
Source: SoCal (Nevada), Inc
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 11 March, 2009
Text Updated: 12 March, 2009
Price: $25
Size: 1"
Purity: 99.999%
Silicon Silicon carbide grinding disk

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Silicon carbide grinding disk.
Grinding wheel made of silicon carbide bonded to a fabric mesh. Sort of like hardened sandpaper in the form of a disk meant to be used with a small angle grinder.
Source: Harbor Freight Tool Company
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 11 March, 2009
Text Updated: 17 March, 2009
Price: $5
Size: 4"
Purity: <50%
Silicon Silicone spatula

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Silicone spatula.
This sample is here only to make the point that silicone is not silicon. Silicon is a brittle, semi-metallic element, silicone is a soft rubbery chemical compound (one of a family of polysiloxanes depending on the exact type of silicone). Silicone rubber does contain a fair bit of silicon (35% or less depending on the type) but it is incorporated into a chemical structure that completely changes its characteristics compared to its pure elemental form.
Source: Walmart
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 8 February, 2009
Text Updated: 8 February, 2009
Price: $2
Size: 3"
Purity: <37%
Silicon Glass fractal sculpture

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Glass fractal sculpture.
This beautiful 3D Hilbert fractal in etched glass form was a gift from Richard Crandall, a long-time Mathematica user and Apple fellow who also has a business, Perfectly Scientific, which sells algorithms, lab equipment, and scientific art, including this lovely object.
Click the Source link to see two other variations of the 3D Hilbert space filling fractal.
Source: Perfectly Scientific
Contributor: Ethan Currens
Acquired: 29 January, 2009
Text Updated: 29 January, 2009
Price: Donated
Size: 4"
Purity: 47%
Silicon Small silicon boule

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Small silicon boule.
From the source:
This is the top of a small diameter silicon crystal produced in research. The small cutoff circle is where the seed crystal was attached, where that seed was lowered into a pool of molten silicon and this crystal slowly pulled out, sticking to the solidified material by surface tension and then solidifying itself.

Source: Ethan Currens
Contributor: Ethan Currens
Acquired: 27 December, 2008
Text Updated: 1 March, 2009
Price: Anonymous
Size: 1"
Purity: 99.9%
Silicon Small silicon boule

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Small silicon boule.
Another small silicon research boule.
Source: Ethan Currens
Contributor: Ethan Currens
Acquired: 27 December, 2008
Text Updated: 28 December, 2008
Price: Anonymous
Size: 1"
Purity: 99.9%
Silicon Failed cast silicon

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Failed cast silicon.
From the source:
This is a mistake from a university research laboratory- someone was trying to melt some high purity silicon into a crucible, probably graphite. The melter they were using employed a vacuum/argon electric arc melting chamber, with a vacuum-suction casting attachment below where a trap door opens below the main melting chamber and your molten material is sucked down into the crucible (hopefully).

For whatever reason, it didn't work in this case. You can see the crucible shape in the really rough, unhappy looking bottom, where the solidification occurred too rapidly. However, on the top is a beautiful crystalline display, showing both the purity of the material and the tendency of silicon to crystallize, even when solidification occurs rapidly, which it likely did in this case.

Source: Ethan Currens
Contributor: Ethan Currens
Acquired: 26 October, 2008
Text Updated: 1 March, 2009
Price: Anonymous
Size: 2"
Purity: 99.9999%
Silicon Silicon research boule

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Silicon research boule.
From the source:
Here is another silicon boule for research, much smaller than would be actually sliced into wafers for chip fabrication. This sample was produced either by the Czochralski pulling method or possibly the less-common floating zone method, though the end result is basically the same.

The distribution of silicon crystals such as this one for research in the second half of the 20th century is quite interesting, and strangely incestuous in a way. For example, General Electric might have received a government grant to grow crystals such as these as a pilot for making into electronic devices. General Electric would then send a box of crystals such as this one to MIT, contracting a professor there to determine the dissolved hydrogen content and check the homogeneity. The professor would then save the pieces, eventually giving them to a colleague of his at a different university, where this new professor would saw thin wafer-thin slices off and use them to test a chemical vapor deposition (CVD) process. A graduate student would end up with the unused crystals when they took over the CVD project from the professor, still a couple pieces such as this sample, The graduate student might then spend a year or two working on their Ph.D thesis at a US DOE National Lab, taking the crystals with them, where they would be abandoned and finally used as extremely pure evaporation material for a electron beam evaporation partner project with General Electric, coming full circle. I have not read anything about this phenomenon, nor heard it acknowledged widely in the research community; rather, this is something I have discovered myself in my pursuit of saving element samples from the landfill, and I think it is both fascinating and quite entertaining.

Source: Ethan Currens
Contributor: Ethan Currens
Acquired: 26 September, 2008
Text Updated: 1 March, 2009
Price: Anonymous
Size: 2"
Purity: 99.9999%
Silicon 8 gold-plated wafer

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8" gold-plated wafer.
Pure gold plated silicon water. Not sure why, but if I had to guess I'd say it has something to do with reflecting infrared light.
Source: eBay seller a1-89
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 2 February, 2008
Text Updated: 23 February, 2008
Price: $41
Size: 8"
Purity: >99.99999%
Silicon 4" wafer

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4" wafer.
Another view of an un-etched silicon wafer.
Source: eBay seller surenet
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 11 July, 2003
Text Updated: 23 December, 2007
Price: $15/5
Size: 4"
Purity: >99.99999%
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Silicon Homer Simpson on a silicon wafer

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Homer Simpson on a silicon wafer.
This is an image of Homer Simpson etched on a wafer of hyper-pure silicon. If you're not familiar with the American animated television series The Simpsons, your response to the news of such an object is likely to be "What?". If you are, it's more likely to be "Why?".
Source: eBay seller nelsonhom0r9g
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 1 July, 2007
Text Updated: 29 January, 2009
Price: $29
Size: 4"
Purity: 99.9999%
Silicon Particularly beautiful polycrystal

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Particularly beautiful polycrystal.
The surface of this chunk of silicon is just lovely, a beautiful crisscrossing of crystal fingers.
Source: Max Whitby of RGB
Contributor: Max Whitby of RGB
Acquired: 4 May, 2007
Text Updated: 9 May, 2007
Price: Donated
Size: 1.5"
Purity: 99.9999%
Silicon Worthless memory chips

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Worthless memory chips.
This is a 512MB memory module from a Mac laptop computer. Oh, man, I remember when a kilobyte was a lot of memory! This one is worthless because if you want to upgrade a Mac laptop you typically have to replace the existing memory modules with new, larger ones. You can't just add more because there aren't any empty slots available. After upgrading, no one wants the left over smaller-capacity modules: There is a glut of them from all the other people who have upgraded too. There's something amazing about the fact that 4294967296 bits of memory is so little no one really even cares about it.
Source: Theodore Gray
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 4 May, 2007
Text Updated: 9 May, 2007
Price: Donated
Size: 3"
Purity: 99.9999%
Silicon Polycrystalline chunk

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Polycrystalline chunk.
Broken chunk of high-purity silicon.
Source: eBay seller hairy_walrus
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 20 January, 2007
Text Updated: 21 January, 2007
Price: $6
Size: 1.5"
Purity: 99.9999%
Silicon Slab

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Slab.
Rough sawn slab, dropped during photography effort, thus revealing pretty internal fracture surfaces. Sometimes dropping and breaking a sample is a good thing.
Source: eBay seller swordsandstones
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 1 August, 2006
Text Updated: 21 January, 2007
Price: $10
Size: 4"
Purity: 99.9999%
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Silicon Full boules

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Full boules.
This is an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime find. Large, complete 6" diameter silicon boules, not cut up, but complete from top to bottom just as they grew from the vat. They are said to have come from the back room of a mineral dealer's shop in California, discovered after the death of the shop owner. All trace of their history has thus been lost.

The cut-off tops of boules like this are not too hard to find, but complete boules are not commonly seen. They are too valuable for cutting up into chip wafers for anyone to consider leaving them in complete form. These look pretty irregular, and my theory is that there's something wrong with them that makes them unsuitable for chip making. Maybe the purity wasn't good enough, or maybe the diameter profiles came out too wild.

It's amazing to think that these 40-pound monsters are each one single crystal all the way from the top to the bottom.

No, they are not for sale.

Source: eBay seller swordsandstones
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 1 August, 2006
Text Updated: 30 November, 2006
Price: $1500
Size: 20"
Purity: 99.9999%
Silicon Test pull

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Test pull.
This is a silicon boule that started growing nicely, and then just when it reached a nice diameter, they stopped it for some reason. It looks like they just pulled it out of the melt, causing the bottom surface to have an irregular molten appearance. It was described by the seller as being a test piece, what exactly they were testing I don't know.
Source: SoCal (Nevada), Inc
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 5 February, 2006
Text Updated: 16 February, 2006
Price: $50
Size: 6"
Purity: 99.9999%
Silicon 8 mirror

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8" mirror.
This was listed as an IR mirror, but it looks indistinguishable from an ordinary un-etched silicon semiconductor wafer. Probably is, just repackaged for use as a mirror.
Source: eBay seller terri63097
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 15 October, 2004
Price: $15
Size: 8"
Purity: 99.9999%
Silicon Square boule

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Square boule.
Normally silicon boules are round, but this one is square! I have several theories and maybe one of you readers will set me straight. One theory is that all silicon boules start out square like this, but turn round when they hit the edges of the spinning pot from which they are being drawn. This theory is supported by the fact that this one was obviously stopped before it finished growing any bigger than it currently is (click the turntable icon to the right to see the bottom side using the QTVR rotatable image). Another theory is that they accidentally mounted the seed crystal in the wrong orientation, causing the crystal to grow in the wrong shape, causing them to stop it early. All in all, I'm going with the first theory since there is no crystal axis that explains the round shape of other boules: That must come from the container, not the crystal growth itself.

And fortunately, reader Ian Haygood provided this explanation:
Hello,

I was enjoying looking at your periodic table today when i read you comments about the square silicon boule you have. This crystal was not pulled using the Czochralski method like many of the other boules you own. I believe that it was made using the Stephanov process. In this process, a graphite shaper is inserted into the pool of liquid Si, and almost any shape can be produced. It is also possible that another technique called the edge-defined film-fed growth(EFG) process could have been used. The process is similar to the Stephanov method, however capillary feeding through the shaper is used to feed material to the growing crystal. Also, you mentioned that you believed that all boules start square. In the Czochralski process, a single crystal seed is introduced into a liquid silicon pool, and is the slowly lifted and rotated while the pool is counter-rotated. This rotation is what causes the resulting crystal to be round. In the other two methods the shaper defines the dimensions of the boule and no rotation occurs. I hope that this information is useful to you.
In other words, all my theories were wrong.

Source: eBay seller campgems
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 10 September, 2004
Text Updated: 5 December, 2006
Price: $20
Size: 3"
Purity: 99.999%
Silicon Sputtering target

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Sputtering target.
This is supposedly a boron doped silicon sputtering target. I have not researched whether that is a sensible claim or not, though it does look and feel like silicon.
Source: eBay seller matky
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 10 September, 2004
Price: $37
Size: 4"
Purity: 99%
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Silicon Fine powder

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Fine powder.
This is finely powdered pure silicon. No idea what it's used for.
Source: eBay seller matky
Contributor: eBay seller matky
Acquired: 10 September, 2004
Price: Donated
Size: 1"
Purity: 99.97%
Silicon Small wafers

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Small wafers.
These are the smallest silicon wafers I've seen, and each one is carefully measured and labeled. They are polished on one side but not etched, and the foam packing is crumbling: The claimed 1960's origin is consistent with the condition of the foam.
Source: eBay seller danfuboco
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 3 September, 2004
Price: $25
Size: 1.5"
Purity: 99.99%
Silicon Stunning sphere

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Stunning sphere.
This sphere is so perfectly polished you basically can't see it: Like a mirror you can see only reflections of the world in it, not the object itself. I was careful not to touch it until I had taken this photograph, but then I was all over it: It's a joy to hold. The person who made it occasionally sells ones like it on ebay: Click the Source link then click the link to his eBay auctions to see if he has any on offer right now.
Source: eBay seller cutter923
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 8 September, 2004
Price: $195
Size: 4"
Purity: 99.9999%
Silicon Annealing boat

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Annealing boat.
This was described as a sintering boat but I think annealing is a more likely application: Silicon wafers, which this is obviously designed to hold, are not sintered, but they are annealed after polishing. It's made of fused quartz, presumably to withstand the high temperatures involved. The idea that quartz, the same quartz that crystals are made out of, can be molten and formed like glass never ceases to amaze me.
The photograph shows it holding 25 assorted 4" silicon wafers. The purity listed represents the weight percent of silicon in quartz, which is SiO2.
Source: eBay seller landelec
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 11 August, 2004
Text Updated: 29 January, 2009
Price: $25
Size: 6"
Purity: 47%
Silicon Thick 4 slab

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Thick 4" slab.
I thought this was a thick slab cut from a silicon crystal boule, just like the many wafers you see described here only thicker. But if you look at the surface you can clearly see that there are many different randomly oriented crystal facets. Because silicon boules used for making wafers are always grown as a single huge perfect crystal, this slab can't have come from one. Which makes me curious to know why else someone would want to make a circular silicon slab, if not for making chips.
Turns out the application is in making solar cells. I'm told such multi-crystal ingots are made by a directional solidification casting system, which sounds a lot like continuous casting to me (a method used for creating long ingots in which new liquid is poured into one end of a long mold even as solid ingot is coming out the other end).
Source: eBay seller eureka52
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 10 August, 2004
Text Updated: 8 April, 2008
Price: $8
Size: 4"
Purity: 99.9%
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Silicon Unpolished 2 wafers

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Unpolished 2" wafers.
These wafers are the step between the boules and the polished wafers (see above for examples of both). They show fine streaks from the saw that cut them from the boule.
Source: Blake Ferris
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 4 August, 2004
Price: $2/each
Size: 2"
Purity: 99.9999%
Silicon Mini element collection

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Mini element collection.
This is a nice little set from the 1960's. The enclosed price list indicates it cost a few dollars, and the enclosed mercury sample indicates it predates current environmental concerns! Here's a picture of the whole 2-box set:
Jr Collection of Elements

Source: Blake Ferris
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 15 July, 2004
Price: $61/set
Size: 1"
Purity: >98%
Silicon 12 Wafer

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12" Wafer.
Every once in a while I get to go on stage with Steve Jobs at an Apple keynote, to demonstrate Mathematica. On those occasions I end up hearing various bits of gossip, and my favorite was during the introduction of the Macintosh G5 line of computers, when, or so I heard, great mountains were moved to get Jobs an actual 12" wafer full of G5 chips for him to hold up at a strategic moment during the presentation. It seems IBM, who makes the wafers, was very nervous about the idea of such a wafer actually leaving the factory, as it contains all kinds of trade secrets not visible after the chips have been packaged. (I can only hope they gave him a defective one, since a full wafer of functional G5 chips would be worth a fortune, and would be ruined by removal from the clean room environment.)

This, alas, is not a full wafer of G5 chips, it's just some kind of test pattern. Still, it's a 12" wafer, which is a fairly exotic object at this time.

Source: eBay seller gogobobs
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 22 June, 2004
Text Updated: 11 August, 2007
Price: $17
Size: 12"
Purity: 99.99999%
Silicon Silicon mirror

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Silicon mirror.
This is a mirror designed to reflect something other than visible light: Perhaps someone will enlighten me. It's obviously very flat and shiny, but not too good as a visible light mirror because silicon absorbs a lot of the visible light striking it.
Source: eBay seller flabster
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 20 June, 2004
Price: $10
Size: 1.5"
Purity: 99.9999%
Silicon Less pure four pound lump

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Less pure four pound lump.
This lump is the first stage in the purification of silicon for use in electronics. Quartz (typical sand, which is silicon dioxide) is chemically reduced to elemental silicon at high temperatures, yielding molten silicon which is then allowed to cool and solidify. This piece was from the top of the container so it shows one kind of surface on the top and quite a different kind where it was resting on other semi-molten blobs underneath. Contrast the relatively dull broken crystal surfaces of this 99.5% pure lump with the much shinier, crisper crystals of the 99.99+% lump above.

I chose this sample to represent its element in my Photographic Periodic Table Poster. The sample photograph includes text exactly as it appears in the poster, which you are encouraged to buy a copy of.
Periodic Table Poster

Source: eBay seller flabster
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 10 January, 2004
Text Updated: 4 May, 2007
Price: $16
Size: 6"
Purity: >99.5%
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Silicon Four and a half pound lump

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Four and a half pound lump.
This is a really great rock of silicon. I don't know the purity, but this is probably one of the intermediate stages in the purification of silicon from sand to boule, so I'm guessing it's around 5-nines, but this is just a guess. What I do know for sure is that it's a wonderful thing to hold, with the typical shiny metallic-yet-not-metal surface of silicon. The next stage in purification is the rod pictured above, and the step before this one is the lump pictured below.
Source: eBay seller gardnrobe
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 11 July, 2003
Price: $31
Size: 8"
Purity: >99.999%
Silicon Diced wafers

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Diced wafers.
These are individual silicon chips (rejects) cut from a larger wafer such as you can see examples of above. Had they not been rejected, these would have been placed in an IC package and then robots would have soldered a nest of extremely fine wires all around to make contact with the inputs and outputs on the chip and connect them to the pins on the package.
Source: SoCal (Nevada), Inc
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 11 July, 2003
Price: $5
Size: 1/2"
Purity: >99.99999%
Silicon Rod

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Rod.
This is a very strange-looking rod. It's claimed to be a pulled crystal rod (Czochralski method), but I question that. It's got a very strange, rough outer surface, not like the surface of other silicon boules I've seen, and there seems to be a 1/4" or so diameter core with a different crystal structure than the surrounding material, which would render it useless for etching circuits on. I'm thinking maybe this is the result of an electrolytic purification process, perhaps an intermediate stage in reaching the hyperpurity used for chips. It came with a card claiming 99.9999% purity. See below for two chunks that represent earlier stages in the purification process.
Source: SoCal (Nevada), Inc
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 11 July, 2003
Price: $58
Size: 4.5"
Purity: >99.9999%
Silicon 4 wafers

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4" wafers.
These are un-etched 4" silicon wafers, part of a lot of 25 I purchased for the series of museum displays I am helping coordinate. These 5 are my element tax on that shipment. As un-etched wafers they have a beautiful mirror-like finish on the front, and an interesting iridescent surface on the back. I'm not sure why they were being sold on eBay, but I can only assume there was some defect that caused them to be rejected, or maybe they were a custom-made batch that turned out not to be needed. Assuming the front surfaces are not the cause of their rejection, they are probably the smoothest, most perfectly polished objects in my collection: Silicon wafers are superlative in all respects, purity, mechanical perfection, fineness of detail (in etched wafers), you name it.
According to the label they are doped with antimony, but I suspect the amount added is very small compared to the bulk amount of silicon, being only in a very thin layer on the surface, so I am assigning a very high purity to this sample.
Source: eBay seller surenet
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 11 July, 2003
Price: $15/5
Size: 4"
Purity: >99.99999%
Silicon 6" wafer

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6" wafer.
Silicon wafers are the Gothic cathedrals of our age. They are the most sophisticated, most beautiful, and most important physical objects created by human kind around the turn of the millennium. They are created in huge numbers in sizes from 2" to 12", and most are cut up into individual chips. A few defective ones are taken out of the line before that stage and sold in museum shops and on eBay, where I got this one and quite a few others.
Source: eBay seller zeebidder
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 11 July, 2003
Text Updated: 29 January, 2009
Price: $10
Size: 6"
Purity: >99.99999%
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Silicon Sample from the Everest Set

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Sample from the Everest Set.
Up until the early 1990's a company in Russia sold a periodic table collection with element samples. At some point their American distributor sold off the remaining stock to a man who is now selling them on eBay. The samples (except gases) weigh about 0.25 grams each, and the whole set comes in a very nice wooden box with a printed periodic table in the lid.

To learn more about the set you can visit my page about element collecting for a general description and information about how to buy one, or you can see photographs of all the samples from the set displayed on my website in a periodic table layout or with bigger pictures in numerical order.

Source: Rob Accurso
Contributor: Rob Accurso
Acquired: 7 February, 2003
Text Updated: 29 January, 2009
Price: Donated
Size: 0.2"
Purity: >99%
Silicon Sample from the RGB Set

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Sample from the RGB Set.
The Red Green and Blue company in England sells a very nice element collection in several versions. Max Whitby, the director of the company, very kindly donated a complete set to the periodic table table.

To learn more about the set you can visit my page about element collecting for a general description or the company's website which includes many photographs and pricing details. I have two photographs of each sample from the set: One taken by me and one from the company. You can see photographs of all the samples displayed in a periodic table format: my pictures or their pictures. Or you can see both side-by-side with bigger pictures in numerical order.

The picture on the left was taken by me. Here is the company's version (there is some variation between sets, so the pictures sometimes show different variations of the samples):


Source: Max Whitby of RGB
Contributor: Max Whitby of RGB
Acquired: 25 January, 2003
Text Updated: 11 August, 2007
Price: Donated
Size: 0.2"
Purity: 98.4%
Silicon Crumb of asteroid

Larger
Crumb of asteroid.
Ed talked to Doug Bowman, a local mathematician and asteroid and puzzle collector. (He collects asteroids and puzzles, not mathematicians.) Doug has many nice iron meteorites but was willing to donate this primarily silicon-based one because it was all broken up already.
Source: Doug Bowman
Contributor: Doug Bowman
Acquired: 12 July, 2002
Price: Donated
Size: 0.2"
Purity: >50%
Silicon Chunk of 99.9999% crystal

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Chunk of 99.9999% crystal.
Kindly donated by David Franco, who sent many elements after seeing the slashdot discussion.
Source: David Franco
Contributor: David Franco
Acquired: 17 May, 2002
Price: Donated
Size: 1.5"
Purity: 99.9999%
Silicon Silicon Boule Top

Larger | Sound
Silicon Boule Top.
This is the cut-off top of a cylindrical crystal grown for slicing into wafers for chip fabrication. The cone-shaped top where the crystal started growing is waste in this process. Purchased in May 2002 through eBay from SoCal (Nevada), Inc, 909-302-9413, socal403@earthlink.net.
This is a weird substance, especially the glossy melt surface. It's so clearly half way between a metal and not a metal: Shiny and lustrous like platinum, yet crystalline and brittle like sulfur. Listen to the sound of this sample and contrast it with the sounds of lumps or bars of metal: It's definitely not a metal sound.
When the package arrived, our teenage baby-sitter took one look at it and said "THAT'S SILICONE???!!". Given the shape and her confusion between silicon and silicone, it's not hard to imagine what was going through her mind.
Source: SoCal (Nevada), Inc
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 11 May, 2002
Price: $30
Size: 4"
Purity: 99.9999%
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Silicon Silicon wafer

Larger
Silicon wafer.
These are broken pieces of etched silicon wafer purchased at the Tech Museum in San Jose, in the late 1990s. No idea what chips are on the wafer.
Source: The Tech Museum, San Jose, California
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 15 April, 2002
Price: $20/unbroken wafer
Size: 1.5"
Purity: 99.9999%
Silicon Mica sheet

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Mica sheet.
This is a sheet of mica, a papery thin mineral that was often used as an electrical insulator. The term mica refers to a range of specific minerals and I don't know which one this is exactly, so the composition is just a guess.
Source: Mark Peterson
Contributor: Mark Peterson
Acquired: 13 January, 2010
Text Updated: 13 January, 2010
Price: Donated
Size: 3"
Composition: (KLi2Al(Al,Si)3O10(F,OH)2
Silicon Quartz slice

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Quartz slice.
An unpolished slice of synthetic quartz.
Source: Mark Peterson
Contributor: Mark Peterson
Acquired: 13 January, 2010
Text Updated: 13 January, 2010
Price: Donated
Size: 0.5"
Composition: SiO2
Silicon Ekanite

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Ekanite.
An ekanite crystal.
Source: Warut Roonguthai
Contributor: Warut Roonguthai
Acquired: 13 January, 2010
Text Updated: 13 January, 2010
Price: Donated
Size: 0.25"
Composition: ThCa2Si8O20
Silicon Quartz window

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Quartz window.
A large lab-grown quartz window.
Source: Mark Peterson
Contributor: Mark Peterson
Acquired: 13 January, 2010
Text Updated: 13 January, 2010
Price: Donated
Size: 0.5"
Composition: SiO2
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Silicon Large Synthetic Quartz

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Large Synthetic Quartz.
A large lab-grown quartz single crystal, made to be cut up into small bits to be used as quartz crystal oscillators.
Source: Mark Peterson
Contributor: Mark Peterson
Acquired: 12 January, 2010
Text Updated: 13 January, 2010
Price: Donated
Size: 4"
Composition: SiO2
Silicon Silicon Carbide crystals

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Silicon Carbide crystals.
Vapor deposited single crystals of silicon carbide, circa 1976.
Source: Ethan Currens
Contributor: Ethan Currens
Acquired: 31 October, 2009
Text Updated: 31 October, 2009
Price: Donated
Size: 0.25"
Composition: SiC
Silicon Rhodonite

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Rhodonite.
Rhodonite.
Source: Jensan Scientifics
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 25 April, 2009
Text Updated: 27 April, 2009
Price: Anonymous
Size: 0.3"
Composition: MnSiO3
Silicon Kunzite

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Kunzite.
Kunzite.
Source: Jensan Scientifics
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 25 April, 2009
Text Updated: 27 April, 2009
Price: Anonymous
Size: 0.5"
Composition: LiAl[Si2O6]
Silicon Kuliokite

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Kuliokite.
Kuliokite rich in lutetium, thulium, and holmium.
Source: Jensan Scientifics
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 25 April, 2009
Text Updated: 27 April, 2009
Price: Anonymous
Size: 0.1"
Composition: (YLuTmHo)4Al(SiO4)2(OH)2F5
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Silicon Titanite

Larger | Spin | 3D
Titanite.
Sample of Titanite.
Source: Jensan Scientifics
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 2 April, 2009
Text Updated: 3 April, 2009
Price: Anonymous
Size: 1"
Composition: CaTi[O+SiO4]
Silicon Silicon nitride ball bearings

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Silicon nitride ball bearings.
Ball bearings made of extremely hard silicon nitride.
Source: eBay seller irvineman
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 28 March, 2009
Text Updated: 29 March, 2009
Price: $4/each
Size: 0.375"
Composition: Si3N4
Silicon Silicon nitride milling bit insert

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Silicon nitride milling bit insert.
Milling bit insert, similar to the common tungsten carbide type, except made of silicon nitride instead.
Source: eBay seller dixielandemporium
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 24 March, 2009
Text Updated: 25 March, 2009
Price: $9
Size: 0.5"
Composition: Si3N4
Silicon Dioptas

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Dioptas.
Sample of dioptas.
Source: Jensan Scientifics
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 24 March, 2009
Text Updated: 25 March, 2009
Price: Anonymous
Size: 2"
Composition: Cu6(Si6O18).6H2O
Silicon Silicon nitride skateboard bearing

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Silicon nitride skateboard bearing.
I really hope it doesn't make any difference whether you have steel ball bearings in your skateboard, or these incredibly expensive solid silicon nitride models. They do spin very smoothly for a very long time, but still, can it really make any appreciable difference?
Silicon nitride is an extremely hard ceramic, but I'm kind of surprised that these things are not too brittle to last very long with people jumping up and down on them.
Source: eBay seller irvineman
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 24 March, 2009
Text Updated: 25 March, 2009
Price: $60
Size: 0.75"
Composition: Si3N4
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Silicon BotryoidalAgate

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BotryoidalAgate.
BotryoidalAgate.
Source: Jensan Scientifics
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 24 March, 2009
Text Updated: 24 March, 2009
Price: Anonymous
Size: 2"
Composition: SiO2
Silicon Arrowhead

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Arrowhead.
I'm guessing this arrowhead is flint, a form of quartz, but that's just a guess.
Source: Nick Mann
Contributor: Nick Mann
Acquired: 24 March, 2009
Text Updated: 24 March, 2009
Price: Donated
Size: 1.5"
Composition: SiO2
Silicon Miserite

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Miserite.
Description from the source:
Miserite (K (Ca Ce)6 Si8 O22 (OH F)2 tric.), Kipawa Alcalyne Complex, Villedieu Tow., Quebec, Canada. Purple section crystals with granular red Eudyalite and beige Vlasovite. Rich in rare earth elements. 2x1,5x1,5 cm; 6 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 11 March, 2009
Text Updated: 3 April, 2009
Price: Trade
Size: 0.75"
Composition: K(Ca,Ce)6Si8O22(OH,F)2
Silicon Compact flash card hard drive

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Compact flash card hard drive.
This is just crazy. When I first heard about these things my jaw literally dropped (not literally). They are obsolete now, having been hopelessly beaten by solid state flash memory, but in their day they were the highest capacity compact memory cards available, up to 8GB by 2008 (by which time 64GB flash memory cards were available).
And they are mechanical hard disk drives. Let me remind you of the dimensions of a compact flash card (type II): 1.4" x 1.7" x 0.2" (36.4mm x 42.8mm x 5mm). The platter in this drive is about 1" (2.5cm) in diameter. It's just crazy small. There's an electric motor spinning the platter, an electro-magnet that moves the read-write heads back and forth, the whole works, plus of course all the control and interface electronics, packing into no space.
I stand in awe of this device.
The platters are aluminum, the electronics are silicon, the wiring is copper, the magnets are neodymium iron boron, and the magnetic coating is iron and cobalt based.
Source: Electronics Store
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 28 February, 2009
Text Updated: 1 March, 2009
Price: $100
Size: 1.75"
Composition: AlSiCuCoFeNdB
Silicon Uvarovite

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Uvarovite.
Description from the source:
Uvarovite (Ca3 Cr2 (Si O4)3 cub.), Outokumpu, Finland. Rich association of chrome silicates (Uvarovite, Cr-diopside, Cr-tremolite). 6,5x6,5x2 cm; 136 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 28 January, 2009
Text Updated: 29 January, 2009
Price: Trade
Size: 2.6"
Composition: Ca3Cr2(SiO4)3
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Silicon Topaz

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Topaz.
Description from the source:
Topaz (Al2 Si O4 (F OH)2 orth.), Perfect, transparent crystals with a bit of matrix. 2,6x2,1x1,5 cm; 10 g with box.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 28 January, 2009
Text Updated: 29 January, 2009
Price: Trade
Size: 1"
Composition: Al2SiO4(FOH)2
Silicon Gehlenite

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Gehlenite.
Description from the source:
Gehlenite ( Ca2 Al (Al Si) O7 tet.), Le Selle, Monzoni, Trento, Italy. Small but evident. 1,5x1x1 cm; 3 g with box.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 28 January, 2009
Text Updated: 29 January, 2009
Price: Trade
Size: 0.6"
Composition: Ca2Al(AlSi)O7
Silicon Elbaite

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Elbaite.
Description from the source:
Elbaite (Na (Li Al)3 Al6 (BO3)3 Si6 O18 (OH)4 trig.), Minas Gerais, Brazil. Isolated, terminated crystal with rare pink-orange color. 2,3x0,8x0,8 cm; 4 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 28 January, 2009
Text Updated: 29 January, 2009
Price: Trade
Size: 1"
Composition: Na(LiAl)3Al6(BO3)3Si6O18(OH)4
Silicon Danburite

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Danburite.
Description from the source:
Danburite (Ca B2 (SiO4)2 orth.), Charcas, San Luis Potosi`, Mexico. Prismatic, geminated, partially translucent, good. 6,5x2x1,5 cm; 25 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 28 January, 2009
Text Updated: 29 January, 2009
Price: Trade
Size: 2.6"
Composition: CaB2(SiO4)2
Silicon Cavansite

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Cavansite.
Description from the source:
Cavansite (Ca (V+4 O) Si4 O10x4 H2O orth.), Wagholi Quarry, Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India. 0,8x0,8x0,8 cm each; 8 g with box the two.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 28 January, 2009
Text Updated: 29 January, 2009
Price: Trade
Size: 0.3"
Composition: Ca(VO)Si4O10.4(H2O)
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Silicon Lepidolite

Larger | Spin | 3D
Lepidolite.
Description from the source:
Lepidolite (K (Li Al)3 (Si Al)4 O10 (F OH)2 mon.), Aracuai`, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Little crystals on clear Quartz. 1,2x0,8x0,8 cm: 1 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 10 January, 2009
Text Updated: 10 January, 2009
Price: Trade
Size: 0.5"
Composition: K(Li,Al)3(Si,Al)4O10(F,OH)2
Silicon Allophane

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Allophane.
Description from the source:
Allophane (amorphous hydrous aluminum silicate), Steyermark, Tyrol, Austria. An amorphous mineral on very delicate matrix. 3x1,8x1 cm; 3 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 10 January, 2009
Text Updated: 10 January, 2009
Price: Trade
Size: 1.2"
Composition: (Al2O3)(SiO2)1.3-2+2.5-3H2O
Silicon Allanite-Y

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Allanite-Y.
Description from the source:
Allanite-Y, Arendal, Nordge. Black, lustrous, massive. 3x1,5x1 cm; 10 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 10 January, 2009
Text Updated: 10 January, 2009
Price: Trade
Size: 1.2"
Composition: (CaY)(Al2Fe)(O,OH,SiO4,Si2O7)
Silicon Hafnon from Jensan Set

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Hafnon from Jensan Set.
This sample represents hafnium in the "The Grand Tour of the Periodic Table" mineral collection from Jensan Scientifics. Visit my page about element collecting for a general description, or see photographs of all the samples from the set in a periodic table layout or with bigger pictures in numerical order.
Source: Jensan Scientifics
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 10 January, 2009
Text Updated: 10 January, 2009
Price: Anonymous
Size: 0.3"
Composition: (Hf,Zr)[SiO4]
Silicon Allanite from Jensan Set

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Allanite from Jensan Set.
This sample represents yttrium in the "The Grand Tour of the Periodic Table" mineral collection from Jensan Scientifics. Visit my page about element collecting for a general description, or see photographs of all the samples from the set in a periodic table layout or with bigger pictures in numerical order.
Source: Jensan Scientifics
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 10 January, 2009
Text Updated: 10 January, 2009
Price: Anonymous
Size: 0.5"
Composition: (CaY)(Al2Fe)(O,OH,SiO4,Si2O7)
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Silicon Wet rock from Nanjing

Larger | Spin | 3D
Wet rock from Nanjing.
This is a type of rock famous in the Nanjing area of China. It's supposed to be wet: When they sell them in shops there are always a few in a bowl of water, because that makes them look pretty and brings out the colors.
Source: China
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 27 December, 2008
Text Updated: 16 April, 2009
Price: $5
Size: 1"
Composition: SiO2
Silicon Tetrahedron from Sacred Geometry set

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Tetrahedron from Sacred Geometry set.
This a decently nice crystal tetrahedron from a set of Platonic solids sold as a "Sacred Geometry" set, made of rose quartz. Nice rocks, but I'm not clear what's "Sacred" about them, they are mathematical objects, not spiritual ones.
Source: Unknown
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 27 December, 2008
Text Updated: 16 April, 2009
Price: $35/set
Size: 1"
Composition: SiO2
Silicon Octahedron from Sacred Geometry set

Larger
Octahedron from Sacred Geometry set.
This a decently nice crystal octahedron from a set of Platonic solids sold as a "Sacred Geometry" set, made of rose quartz. Nice rocks, but I'm not clear what's "Sacred" about them, they are mathematical objects, not spiritual ones.
Source: Unknown
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 27 December, 2008
Text Updated: 16 April, 2009
Price: $35/set
Size: 1"
Composition: SiO2
Silicon Icosahedron from Sacred Geometry set

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Icosahedron from Sacred Geometry set.
This a decently nice crystal icosahedron from a set of Platonic solids sold as a "Sacred Geometry" set, made of rose quartz. Nice rocks, but I'm not clear what's "Sacred" about them, they are mathematical objects, not spiritual ones.
Source: Unknown
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 27 December, 2008
Text Updated: 16 April, 2009
Price: $35/set
Size: 1"
Composition: SiO2
Silicon Dodecahedron from Sacred Geometry set

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Dodecahedron from Sacred Geometry set.
This a decently nice crystal dodecahedron from a set of Platonic solids sold as a "Sacred Geometry" set, made of rose quartz. Nice rocks, but I'm not clear what's "Sacred" about them, they are mathematical objects, not spiritual ones.
Source: Unknown
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 27 December, 2008
Text Updated: 16 April, 2009
Price: $35/set
Size: 1"
Composition: SiO2
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Silicon Cube from Sacred Geometry set

Larger | Spin | 3D
Cube from Sacred Geometry set.
This a decently nice crystal cube from a set of Platonic solids sold as a "Sacred Geometry" set, made of rose quartz. Nice rocks, but I'm not clear what's "Sacred" about them, they are mathematical objects, not spiritual ones.
Source: Unknown
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 27 December, 2008
Text Updated: 16 April, 2009
Price: $35/set
Size: 1"
Composition: SiO2
Silicon Scolecite

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Scolecite.
Description from the source:
Scolecite (Ca Al2 Si3 O10 x 3 H2 O mon.), Poona, Jalgaon, India. White fascicular, delicate crystals. 5,5x2x1 cm; 3 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 27 December, 2008
Text Updated: 28 December, 2008
Price: Trade
Size: 2.2"
Composition: CaAl2Si3O10.3(H2O)
Silicon Pollucite

Larger | Spin | 3D
Pollucite.
Description from the source:
Pollucite ((Cs Na)2 Al2 Si4 O12 x H2O cub.), Bennet Quarry, Maine, USA. Pink, massive. 4,5x2,5x1,5 cm; 20 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 27 December, 2008
Text Updated: 28 December, 2008
Price: Trade
Size: 1.75"
Composition: (CsNa)2Al2Si4O12.H2O
Silicon Stilbite

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Stilbite.
Description from the source:
Ca-Stilbite (Na Ca4 (Al9 Si27 O72)x nH2O mon.), Poona, Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India. White crystal cluster with pulverulent Laumontite. 3,5x1,3x1,3 cm; 5 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 27 December, 2008
Text Updated: 28 December, 2008
Price: Trade
Size: 1.4"
Composition: NaCa4(Al9Si27O72).H2O
Silicon Beryl

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Beryl.
Description from the source:
Beryl ( Be3 Al2 Si6 O18 hex.), Antsongombato, Antananarivo, Madagascar. Partial crystal with good blue-green color. 2,3x2,1x2 cm; 25 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 27 December, 2008
Text Updated: 28 December, 2008
Price: Trade
Size: 1"
Composition: Be3Al2Si6O18
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Silicon Lepidolite

Larger | Spin | 3D
Lepidolite.
Description from the source:
Lepidolite (K (Li Al)3 (Si Al)4 O10 (F OH)2 mon.), Varutra"sk, Skellefteao, Va"sterbotten, Sweden. Laminar deep purple crystals on matrix. 5x3,5x3 cm; 45 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 19 November, 2008
Text Updated: 20 November, 2008
Price: Trade
Size: 2"
Composition: K(LiAl)3(SiAl)4O10(FOH)2
Silicon Danburite

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Danburite.
Description from the source:
Danburite (Ca B2 (SiO4)2 orth.), Charcas, San Luis Potosi`, Mexico. Prismatic, geminated. 4x2x1,5 cm; 16 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 19 November, 2008
Text Updated: 20 November, 2008
Price: Trade
Size: 1.6"
Composition: CaB2(SiO4)2
Silicon Photo Card Deck of the Elements

Larger | Spin | 3D
Photo Card Deck of the Elements.
In late 2006 I published a photo periodic table and it's been selling well enough to encourage me to make new products. This one is a particularly neat one: A complete card deck of the elements with one big five-inch (12.7cm) square card for every element. If you like this site and all the pictures on it, you'll love this card deck. And of course if you're wondering what pays for all the pictures and the internet bandwidth to let you look at them, the answer is people buying my posters and cards decks. Hint hint.
Source: Theodore Gray
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 19 November, 2008
Text Updated: 21 November, 2008
Price: $35
Size: 5"
Composition: HHeLiBeBCNOFNeNaMg AlSiPSClArKCaScTiVCrMn FeCoNiCuZnGaGeAsSeBrKr RbSrYZrNbMoTcRuRhPdAg CdInSnSbTeIXeCsBaLaCePr NdPmSmEuGdTbDyHoErTm YbLuHfTaWReOsIrPtAuHgTl PbBiPoAtRnFrRaAcThPaUNp PuAmCmBkCfEsFmMdNoLrRf DbSgBhHsMtDsRgUubUutUuq UupUuhUusUuo
Silicon Manganaxinite

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Manganaxinite.
Description from the source:
Manganaxinite (Ca2 Mn+2 Al2 B Si4 O15 (OH) tric.), Dalnegorsk, Russia. Brown greenish, bladed crystal cluster. 2,5x2x1,5 cm; 8 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 30 October, 2008
Text Updated: 31 October, 2008
Price: Trade
Size: 1"
Composition: Ca2Mn+2Al2BSi4O15(OH)
Silicon Elbaite

Larger | Spin | 3D
Elbaite.
Description from the source:
Elbaite (Na (Li Al)3 Al6 (BO3)3 Si6 O18 (OH)4 trig.), Stak Nala, Haramosh, Skardu, Baltistan, Pakistan. Fascicular crystals on matrix. 4x2,5x1,5 cm; 12 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 30 October, 2008
Text Updated: 31 October, 2008
Price: Trade
Size: 1.5"
Composition: Na(LiAl)3Al6(BO3)3Si6O18(OH)4
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Silicon Pollucite from Jensan Set

Larger | Spin | 3D
Pollucite from Jensan Set.
This sample represents cesium in the "The Grand Tour of the Periodic Table" mineral collection from Jensan Scientifics. Visit my page about element collecting for a general description, or see photographs of all the samples from the set in a periodic table layout or with bigger pictures in numerical order.
Source: Jensan Scientifics
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 30 October, 2008
Text Updated: 31 October, 2008
Price: Anonymous
Size: 1"
Composition: (Cs,Na)2[Al2Si4O12].2H2O
Silicon Eudialyte from Jensan Set

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Eudialyte from Jensan Set.
This sample represents zirconium in the "The Grand Tour of the Periodic Table" mineral collection from Jensan Scientifics. Visit my page about element collecting for a general description, or see photographs of all the samples from the set in a periodic table layout or with bigger pictures in numerical order.
Source: Jensan Scientifics
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 29 October, 2008
Text Updated: 29 October, 2008
Price: Anonymous
Size: 1"
Composition: Na15Ca6(FeMn)3Zr3[Si25O73](O,OH,H2O)3(OH,Cl)2
Silicon Borosilicate glass Medallion

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Borosilicate glass Medallion.
I made this medallion for an article in my Popular Science column, using a charcoal grill to melt old borosilicate test tubes down and press them into a graphite mold.
Source: Theodore Gray
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 26 October, 2008
Text Updated: 16 April, 2009
Price: $1
Size: 2.5"
Composition: SiO2+Na2[B4O5(OH)4]
Silicon Soda-lime glass Medallion

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Soda-lime glass Medallion.
I made this medallion for an article in my Popular Science column, using a charcoal grill to melt the ingredients (silica sand, washing soda and limestone) together into soda-lime glass. Once melted I pressed the glass (darkened by ashes from the fire) into a graphite mold I had machined and heated in the fire.
Source: Theodore Gray
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 26 October, 2008
Text Updated: 26 October, 2008
Price: $1
Size: 2.5"
Composition: SiO2+Na2CO3+CaCO3
Silicon Spessartite

Larger | Spin | 3D
Spessartite.
Description from the source:
Spessartite (Mn+23 Al2 (Si O4)3 cub.), Tongbei, Yunxiao, Fujian, China. Perfect crystals on matrix. 5x3,5x3 cm; 50 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 26 October, 2008
Text Updated: 26 October, 2008
Price: Trade
Size: 2"
Composition: Mn+23Al2(SiO4)3
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Silicon Manganese oxides in quartz

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Manganese oxides in quartz.
Description from the source:
Mn oxides included in Quartz. Minas Gerais, Brazil. 6x2,5x2,5 cm; 40 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 26 October, 2008
Text Updated: 26 October, 2008
Price: Trade
Size: 2.4"
Composition: MnO2+SiO2
Silicon Staurolite

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Staurolite.
Description from the source:
Staurolite ((Fe+2 Mg Zn)2 Al9 (Si Al)4 O22 (OH)2 mon.), New Mexico, USA. Geminated with small garnets. 1,5x1,4x1,1 cm; 6 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 26 October, 2008
Text Updated: 26 October, 2008
Price: Trade
Size: 0.6"
Composition: (FeMgZn)2Al9(SiAl)4O22(OH)2
Silicon Phenakite

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Phenakite.
Description from the source:
Phenakite (Be2 SiO4 trig.), Madagascar. Isolated, prismatic, geminated. 1,9x1,4x1,2 cm; 8 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 26 October, 2008
Text Updated: 26 October, 2008
Price: Trade
Size: 0.75"
Composition: Be2SiO4
Silicon Gehlenite

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Gehlenite.
Description from the source:
Gehlenite ( Ca2 Al (Al Si) O7 tet.), Le Selle, Monzoni, Trento, Italy. Small but evident. 1,5x1x1 cm; 3 g with box.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 14 October, 2008
Text Updated: 14 October, 2008
Price: Trade
Size: 0.6"
Composition: Ca2Al(AlSi)O7
Silicon Diopside

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Diopside.
Description from the source:
Diopside (Ca Mg Si2 O6 mon.), Jalpur, India. Green, geminated crystals. 2x1,2x1 cm; 5 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 14 October, 2008
Text Updated: 14 October, 2008
Price: Trade
Size: 0.75"
Composition: CaMgSi2O6
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Silicon Yellow Pyroxene

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Yellow Pyroxene.
Description from the source:
A very rare "yellow" Pyroxene (probably an Aegyrine/Augite, Vesuvio, Napoli, Italia), with a incredible intense yellow color, associated with reddish Olivine and black Spinell. An extremely good Vesuvious specimen for the collectors. 4x2,5x2 cm; 22 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 30 September, 2008
Text Updated: 1 October, 2008
Price: Trade
Size: 1.6"
Composition: CaMg(Si2O6)
Silicon Hemimorphite

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Hemimorphite.
Description from the source:
Hemimorphite (Zn4 Si2 O7 (OH)2 x H2 O orth.), Ojuela Mine, Mapimi`, Durango, Mexico. Transparent, perfect crystals on limonitic matrix. 4,5x3x2 cm; 22 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 30 September, 2008
Text Updated: 1 October, 2008
Price: Trade
Size: 1.75"
Composition: Zn4Si2O7(OH)2.H2O
Silicon Forsterite

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Forsterite.
Description from the source:
Forsterite (Mg2 SiO4 orth.), Minas Gerais, Brazil. Granular. 2x1,2x1,2 cm; 3 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 30 September, 2008
Text Updated: 1 October, 2008
Price: Trade
Size: 0.75"
Composition: Mg2SiO4
Silicon Pyroxmangite

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Pyroxmangite.
Description from the source:
Pyroxmangite (Mn+2 Si O3 tric. ), Conselheiro Lafaiete, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Massive, cleavaged. 8,5x4,5x1,5 cm; 70 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 30 September, 2008
Text Updated: 1 October, 2008
Price: Trade
Size: 3.3"
Composition: MnSiO3
Silicon Petalite

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Petalite.
Description from the source:
Petalite (Li Al Si4 O10 mon.), Mogok, Myanmar (Burma). Isolated, fracturated beige crystal, rare. 2,5x1,6x1 cm; 5 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 30 September, 2008
Text Updated: 1 October, 2008
Price: Trade
Size: 1"
Composition: LiAlSi4O10
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Silicon Orthoclase

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Orthoclase.
Description from the source:
Orthoclase (K Al Si3 O8 mon.), San Gotthard, Tessin, Switzerland. Geminated crystals of the variety Adular. 5x4x3 cm; 25 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 30 September, 2008
Text Updated: 1 October, 2008
Price: Trade
Size: 2"
Composition: KAlSi3O8
Silicon Grossular

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Grossular.
Description from the source:
Grossular (Ca3 Al2 (Si O4)3 cub.), Lake Jako, Sierra de las Cruces, Chihuahua, Mexico. Perfect rhombohedral crystal. 2,2x2x1,8 cm; 16 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 30 September, 2008
Text Updated: 1 October, 2008
Price: Trade
Size: 1"
Composition: Ca3Al2(SiO4)3
Silicon Beryl

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Beryl.
Description from the source:
Beryl ( Be3 Al2 Si6 O18 hex.), Governador Valadares, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Not terminated cristal on Quartz with decent color. 6x4,5x4 cm (crystal up to 22 mm); 126 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 30 September, 2008
Text Updated: 1 October, 2008
Price: Trade
Size: 2.4"
Composition: Be3Al2Si6O18
Silicon Danburite

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Danburite.
Description from the source:
Danburite (Ca B2 (SiO4)2 orth.), Charcas, San Luis Potosi`, Mexico. White large terminated crystal. 7x4x1,8 cm; 70 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 30 September, 2008
Text Updated: 1 October, 2008
Price: Trade
Size: 2.75"
Composition: CaB2(SiO4)2
Silicon Staurolite

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Staurolite.
Description from the source:
Staurolite ((Fe+2 Mg Zn)2 Al9 (Si Al)4 O22 (OH)2 mon.), Minas Gerais, Brazil. Single crystal. 1,8x1,5x1,2 cm; 5 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 30 September, 2008
Text Updated: 1 October, 2008
Price: Trade
Size: 0.7"
Composition: (FeMgZn)2Al9(SiAl)4O22(OH)2
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Silicon Vesuvianite

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Vesuvianite.
Description from the source:
Vesuvianite (Ca10 Mg2 Al4 (SI O4)5 (Si2 O7)2 (OH)4 tet.), Bellecombe, Aosta, Italia. Perfect isolated crystal. 1,2x0,8x0,8 cm; 3 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 30 September, 2008
Text Updated: 1 October, 2008
Price: Trade
Size: 0.5"
Composition: Ca10Mg2Al4(SiO4)5(Si2O7)2(OH)4
Silicon Cerite

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Cerite.
Description from the source:
Cerite ( (Ce Ca)10 (Si O4)6 (OH F)5 trig.), Mine of Bastnaes near Riddarhytta, Westmanland, Sweden. Pinkish masses on matrix. Rare. 2x1,7x0,8 cm; 8 g with box.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 30 September, 2008
Text Updated: 1 October, 2008
Price: Trade
Size: 0.75"
Composition: (CeCa)10(SiO4)6(OH.F)5
Silicon Quartz

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Quartz.
Description from the source:
Quartz (Si O2 trig.), Magaliesberg Quartz deposits, Mpumalanga, South Africa. Nice cluster of Quartz "Spirit". 3,5x2,7x2,5 cm; 22 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 26 September, 2008
Text Updated: 28 September, 2008
Price: Trade
Size: 0.75"
Composition: SiO2
Silicon Quartz

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Quartz.
Description from the source:
Quartz (SiO2 trig.), San Luis Potosi`, Mexico. Perfect biterminated crystal. 3,5x2,5x2,1 cm; 15 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 26 September, 2008
Text Updated: 28 September, 2008
Price: Trade
Size: 1.4"
Composition: SiO2
Silicon Eudyalite

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Eudyalite.
Description from the source:
Eudyalite (Na4(CaCe)2(Fe+2Mn+2Y+ZrSi8O22(OHCl)2 trig.), Kipawa Alcalyne Complex, Villedieu Tow., Quebec, Canada. Red, granular, with white fibrous Agrellite and beige Vlasovite. A rich thumbnail. 2,2x1,7x1 cm; 5 g.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 26 September, 2008
Text Updated: 28 September, 2008
Price: Trade
Size: 0.85"
Composition: Na4(CaCe)2(Fe,2Mn,2Y).ZrSi8O22(OHCl)2
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Silicon Kyanite

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Kyanite.
Description from the source:
Kyanite (Al2SiO5 tric.), Itinga, Brazil. Rare complete crystals with transparence. 3,1x1,4x0,9 cm the bigger; 35 g all.
Source: Simone Citon
Contributor: John Gray
Acquired: 26 September, 2008
Text Updated: 28 September, 2008
Price: Trade
Size: 1.2"
Composition: Al2SiO5
Silicon Trinitite

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Trinitite.
Nuclearon specializes in trinitite and other interesting radioactive artifacts and objects. They donated this lovely sample of green glass trinitite, remnants of the Trinity test, the first nuclear explosion created by the hand of man. More details about the origin and characteristics of trinitite can be found at this page about the varieties of trinitite.
Interestingly, I got this sample right around the time I exchanged some email with Ellen Klages, the author of The Green Glass Sea, a children's book about the trinity test. The title of the book certainly evokes the nature of this amazing material.
Source: Nuclearon
Contributor: Nuclearon
Acquired: 13 June, 2008
Text Updated: 14 June, 2008
Price: Donated
Size: 1"
Composition: SiO2
Silicon Trinitite

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Trinitite.
Nuclearon specializes in trinitite and other interesting radioactive artifacts and objects. They donated this lovely sample of green glass trinitite, remnants of the Trinity test, the first nuclear explosion created by the hand of man. More details about the origin and characteristics of trinitite can be found at this page about the varieties of trinitite.
Interestingly, I got this sample right around the time I exchanged some email with Ellen Klages, the author of The Green Glass Sea, a children's book about the trinity test. The title of the book certainly evokes the nature of this amazing material.
Source: Nuclearon
Contributor: Nuclearon
Acquired: 13 June, 2008
Text Updated: 14 June, 2008
Price: Donated
Size: 1"
Composition: SiO2
Silicon Island In A Bottle

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Island In A Bottle.
This lovely, tiny little island scene came from a little shop in New Harmony, Indiana, a former utopian community that turned to tourism after failing at the utopia business. Being made of glass, wood, and various other organic materials, it contains silicon, carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen, plus some minor elements in the pigments.
Source: New Harmony
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 2 December, 2007
Text Updated: 3 December, 2007
Price: $15
Size: 2"
Composition: SiO2+C(H2O)
Silicon Silicated Magnesium

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Silicated Magnesium.
This was described on eBay as a heavily silicated magnesium nodule from the Clear Creak mining district in San Benito, California. It sure doesn't look like magnesium metal, but I'm not clear what mineral it actually is.
Source: eBay seller zephyr4
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 13 February, 2007
Text Updated: 14 February, 2007
Price: $25
Size: 3"
Composition: MgSi
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Silicon Rosy quartz

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Rosy quartz.
A pretty little bit of rosy quartz, I think it was a free sample that came with some other minerals I got on eBay.
Source: Unknown
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 10 February, 2007
Text Updated: 10 February, 2007
Price: Unknown
Size: 1"
Composition: SiO2
Silicon Tremolite asbestos

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Tremolite asbestos.

See above Actinolite sample for an extended discussion of asbestos, mesothelioma, lawyers, and litigation.

Mineral details: Tremolite, amphibole group, double-chain silicate. Named after the type locality at Val Tremola (Gotthard Massif, Switzerland). Sample from Placer County, California, USA.

Source: eBay seller star-stuff
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 10 April, 2006
Text Updated: 30 May, 2006
Price: $30
Size: 2"
Composition: Ca2(Mg)5Si8O22(OH)2
Silicon Riebeckite asbestos

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Riebeckite asbestos.

See above Actinolite sample for an extended discussion of asbestos, mesothelioma, lawyers, and litigation.

Mineral details: Riebeckite (variety Crocidolite), amphibole group, double-chain silicate. From the Greek krokid ("nap on woolen cloth"). Kuruman, Northern Cape Province, South Africa.

Source: eBay seller star-stuff
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 10 April, 2006
Text Updated: 30 May, 2006
Price: $30
Size: 2"
Composition: Na2Fe2(FeMg)3Si8O22(OH)2
Silicon Grunerite asbestos

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Grunerite asbestos.

See above Actinolite sample for an extended discussion of asbestos, mesothelioma, lawyers, and litigation.

Mineral details: Grunerite (variety "Amosite"), amphibole group, double-chain silicate. Name is derived from an acronym of an original mining locality (AMOSA Mine, Asbestos Mines Of South Africa). Sample from Limpopo Province, South Africa.

Source: eBay seller star-stuff
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 10 April, 2006
Text Updated: 30 May, 2006
Price: $30
Size: 2"
Composition: (FeMg)7Si8O22(OH)2
Silicon Chrysotile asbestos

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Chrysotile asbestos.

See above Actinolite sample for an extended discussion of asbestos, mesothelioma, lawyers, and litigation.

The mineral chrysotile is the basis of the most widely used form of asbestos, and the safest. In fact, this form of asbestos is still in current production in many parts of the world and is considered safe by many people and organizations (though not by all). It is chemically and physically different from all the other minerals used in asbestos (see samples above and below). The others are Amphibole silicates while chrysotile is a serpentine mineral. Whether it is completely safe or not depends on the form it's in (and on who you ask), but it is generally agreed that chrysotile is the least potent carcinogen among the asbestos minerals.

Mineral details: Chrysotile, serpentine group, sheet silicate. From the Greek chrysos ("gold") + tilos ("fiber"). Thetford Mines, Quebec, Canada.

Source: eBay seller star-stuff
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 10 April, 2006
Text Updated: 30 May, 2006
Price: $30
Size: 2"
Composition: Mg3(Si2O5)(OH)4
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Silicon Anthophyllite asbestos

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Anthophyllite asbestos.

See above Actinolite sample for an extended discussion of asbestos, mesothelioma, lawyers, and litigation.

Anthophyllite asbestos is quite rare: This mineral was not used as commonly as the others listed here.

Mineral details: Anthophyllite, amphibole group, double-chain silicate. From the Latin Anthophyllum ("clove"). Carleton Talc Mine, Windsor County, Vermont, USA.

Source: eBay seller star-stuff
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 10 April, 2006
Text Updated: 30 May, 2006
Price: $30
Size: 2"
Composition: Mg7Si8O22(OH)2
Silicon Actinolite asbestos

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Actinolite asbestos.

The name "asbestos" used to mean a wonder-material, an insulator without equal and a strengthening fiber so cheap and strong it was used in building materials worldwide. Today the name means nothing but death and ruin.

Asbestos had been used so widely and for so long that it must have seemed beyond credibility when evidence first started appearing that it might be harmful. It is, after all, just a natural mineral, a rock dug from the ground. It contains no toxic elements or compounds. As a silicate mineral, asbestos is a member the group of minerals that make up as much as 90% of the earth's crust. How could such a common rock possibly be dangerous?

The answer lies in its shape. As you can see from this and the other asbestos samples below, the difference between asbestos and other silicate minerals is that asbestos appears in the form of very fine hair-like fibers. This fibrous nature is what makes it so useful as an insulator and building material: It can be woven, braided, pressed into mats, or mixed with plaster or concrete to make a strong, fiber-reinforced material. (It's also fireproof and impervious to most chemicals: What more could you ask for? To this day there are no really satisfactory substitutes for some applications from which asbestos has been banned.)

The fibers are not just fine, they are ultra-fine: The ends of the natural fibers taper down to molecular sharpness, with a tip that is literally no more than a few atoms across. Lodged in the body, most commonly in the lungs when stray fibers are inhaled, these tips can worm their way into individual living cells and tickle the DNA in a way that no blunt artificial fibers can.

The ability to touch, and damage, DNA makes asbestos fibers potent carcinogens: Remarkably, unlike virtually all other carcinogens, they cause cancer purely mechanically, not chemically or by radiation. They literally poke the strands of DNA in a living cell without killing the cell. Topping off their deadly potential, asbestos fibers, unlike for example modern fiberglass fibers, last pretty much forever in the environment of the lungs. Fiberglass is said to dissolve after a few months in the lungs, and in any case isn't sharp enough to cause molecular-level damage (at least, that's what people think now, we'll see how the evidence stacks up in another 50 years). But asbestos fibers will sit there for decades on end, firmly lodged in the deepest recesses of the lungs, just waiting for some unlucky DNA to happen by.

In principle asbestos could cause cancer anywhere in the body, but it's the lungs that are most vulnerable. As with many hazards, its layer of dead cells protects the skin from asbestos, as does the lining of the gut. But in the lungs the living cells are right on the surface, vulnerable to anything that finds its way past the nose and sinuses.

The most serious disease caused by asbestos is mesothelioma, a form of cancer. If you look up mesothelioma in google, you will find lawyers, lawyers, and more lawyers. Everywhere you look, it's lawyers as far as the eye can see. Even websites that seem to be purely informational or medical in nature will, on closer examination, turn out to be sponsored by a law firm. The reason of course is that there is big money in mesothelioma, specifically in suing any and every company that ever had its doorstep darkened by a product containing asbestos in any form.

There is probably some guilt in the asbestos industry. The real truth will most likely never be known, since to admit it would mean instant financial ruin for anyone who spoke, but my guess is that some people, including some senior people at large companies, knew pretty well that asbestos was harmful, and instead of immediately shutting their companies down and putting hundreds of people out of work, they tried to hide the evidence and thus condemned more workers and customers to death. (Business is complicated, much like life.)

But the current orgy of asbestos litigation is clearly targeting people far from any reasonable definition of guilt. Lawyer's websites list literally hundreds of companies and job sites, including small plumbing distributors, hospitals, schools, and even court houses. All places where asbestos was manufactured, sold, handled, or used. All places liable to being sued for millions of dollars by someone who wishes to hold them accountable for the disease that is slowly but surely killing them.

Saying that a small plumbing company that sold or installed asbestos insulation is liable for the illness of its workers or customers throws common notions of liability on their head. These small business people had no more reason to believe asbestos was dangerous than did their employees and customers: No one imagined it. No one considered it. No one would have believed it. And if some large companies had internal documents suggesting there was cause for concern, they certainly didn't share those with the local plumbing contractor!

A lot of good people have been ruined by asbestos litigation. But a lot of people have died because of asbestos, and juries tend to want to find a way to help sick people, even if it means extracting money from someone who did nothing wrong, someone whose only guilt is being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Which is to say, being the owner of a business that sold a legal product that they and everyone they knew thought was safe.

What would be a fair solution? Society benefitted from asbestos, society (which is to say the government) should pay to take care of those harmed by it. In most countries, that's just what happens (and not just for asbestos-related disease). But in America, we instead have a system in which we pick random companies and extort them for sometimes more money than they have, to enrich a few sick people beyond any reasonable need, while diverting a large percentage of the money to lawyers who, much as some people might wish it, don't even have mesothelioma. Those not lucky enough to find a target with deep pockets, or too honest to blame a blameless party for their misfortune, languish in poverty and pain until death takes them.

It makes about as much sense as throwing darts at a board to decide who pays for which disease: OK, Amtrack, you pay for lupus, General Motors gets colon cancer, Microsoft can take gastroenteritis, Chiquita gets mesothelioma, and for hives we will pick, oh, say, McDonald's. (Yes, Chiquita Bananas is on the list of companies targeted for asbestos litigation. The other company-disease associations I made up and have no basis in fact. So far as I know.)

One thing that is often missed in discussion of asbestos is that the minerals it comes from are beautiful! I bought a set of six absolutely stunning mineral samples representing the range of natural sources for this amazing product.

The photo associated with this text is of Actinolite, one of the most potently carcinogenic forms of asbestos. Its sharp, needle-like fibers make it especially dangerous. The samples below represent all the major natural sources of asbestos fibers.

Mineral details: Actinolite (variety "Byssolite"), amphibole group, double-chain silicate. From the Greek aktinos ("ray"). French Creek, Chester County, Pennsylvania, USA.

Source: eBay seller star-stuff
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 10 April, 2006
Text Updated: 1 June, 2006
Price: $30
Size: 2"
Composition: Ca2(MgFe)5Si8O22(OH)2
Silicon Trinitite

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Trinitite.
When the first atomic bomb was set off, the "trinity" test, it melted the desert, forming a 600 yard diameter crater with a crust of greenish glass (glass is molten sand). This glassy material, which has come to be known as trinitite, was quite radioactive at first, but has by now died down to a fairly low level. It's removal from the site is forbidden, but a good bit is in circulation (though so is a good bit of fake trinitite as well).
Source: Ian Brown
Contributor: Ian Brown
Acquired: 13 January, 2006
Text Updated: 4 February, 2006
Price: Donated
Size: 1"
Composition: SiO2
Silicon Aerogel

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Aerogel.
Guitars used to just be called guitars, but then electric guitars were invented and you had to start calling regular guitars "acoustic guitars" to distinguish them from electric guitars. Same thing with gels. A gel, as in gelatin, used to mean a sparse three-dimensional web of solid material supported by a liquid solvent. Now you have to call that a "solgel", to distinguish it from an "aerogel", in which the liquid solvent is replaced by air.
Aerogels are very, very light, a tenth of a gram per cubic centimeter or less (for comparison water is one gram per cc). They are often referred to as frozen smoke, an apt description if you've ever held one.
But the often-made claim that they are the least dense solid material strikes me as suspect. They are also said to have a very large internal surface area, and it seems to me that if something has internal surface area, then it's not solid.
While aerogels have a very modern NASA air about them, they are actually quite old: In the 1950's a model of refrigerator was available that used aerogel insulation!
Source: eBay seller oboyoberta
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 5 January, 2006
Text Updated: 5 February, 2006
Price: $37.50
Size: 1"
Composition: SiO2
Silicon Venus Flower Basket

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Venus Flower Basket.
This is a sea creature, a sponge of sorts, that grows a glass skeleton. That's right, the skeleton is made of what amounts to fiberglass. Isn't that the most amazing thing you've ever heard of? I suppose it shouldn't be any more amazing than us growing a calcium phosphate (actually calcium phosphate foam) skeleton, but it is to me.
Not only is the skeleton glass, the fibers it's made of are said to be superior in some ways to man-made fiber optics, and of course they are grown at low temperatures, something people, as of this writing, have no idea how to do.
And to top it off, this creature has one of those classically bizarre life cycles one can only stand in awe of. Each Venus Flower Basket is usually inhabited by a mating pair of bioluminescent shrimp. The shrimp entered the sponge when they were small, and are now too large to ever leave, but their offspring can swim out the openings to find their own sponges to set up permanent housekeeping in. Mated for life (whether they like it or not), the shrimp feed on the remains of food filtered by the sponge, while the light they generate is thought to attract more such food to the sponge.
Oh, and these things are dirt common, and can even be grown in home aquariums. We really do live on one of the most amazing planets I'm sure.
Source: eBay seller bestshells
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 20 September, 2005
Price: $10
Size: 10"
Composition: SiO2
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Silicon Tourmaline Dravite variant

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Tourmaline (Dravite variant).
I'm not sure why I have this mineral: I think it may have been a free sample included with some other mineral purchase. Lovely, though of relatively undistinguished chemical composition.
Source: Theodore Gray
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 20 September, 2005
Price: Donated
Size: 1"
Composition: NaMg3Al6(BO3)3[Si6O18](OH)3(OH)
Silicon Thorite

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Thorite.
This is a lovely shiny crystal of thorite, a rare radioactive mineral, from Mt. Zagi, Pakistan. The price reflects the rarity of this species more so than its beauty, though this one is really quite attractive.
Source: eBay seller 4jdk
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 25 September, 2005
Price: $76
Size: 0.5"
Composition: (Th,U)SiO
Silicon Vicanite

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Vicanite.
This small mineral is from the Vica Complex, Tre Croci, Italy, says the label. I bought it for its thorium content.
Source: eBay seller ley646
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 20 September, 2005
Price: $15.50
Size: 0.5"
Composition: (Ca, Ce, La, Th)15As(AsNa)FeSi6B4O40F7
Silicon Boltwoodite

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Boltwoodite.
I think it's the yellow crystals on this rock that are the actual Boltwoodite: I have no idea what the rest is.
Source: SoCal (Nevada), Inc
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 3 June, 2005
Price: $28
Size: 1.5"
Composition: (K+Na)[(UO2)(SiO3OH)](H2O)1.5
Silicon Thorite

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Thorite.
This is a very rare thorium mineral. Not much to look at, but it has a well-defined crystal structure and it's hot enough that when it fell under a bunch of stuff, I had no trouble locating it with a Geiger counter. (This is one of the great advantages of radioactive things: You can never really loose them. Not so the osmium pellet I'm probably never going to find.)
The price reflects the rarity of this species.
Source: eBay seller mineralman999
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 3 June, 2005
Price: $90
Size: 0.5"
Composition: (Th,U)SiO
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Silicon Aquamarine Beryl

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Aquamarine Beryl. (External Sample)
The metal beryllium is named after this mineral. It comes in a great variety of shapes and colors.
Location: John Gray's Collection
Photographed: 16 December, 2004
Size: 4"
Composition: Be3Al2Si6O18
Silicon Silicon Carbide crystal

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Silicon Carbide crystal.
This is another silicon carbide crystal sold on eBay as bismuth. I'm not sure why people think it's bismuth or sell it as such. The physical properties are really completely different. But anyway, it's a very pretty crystal, man-made no doubt, probably as industrial waste from iron foundry work (silicon carbide forms in iron cupolas in a reaction between coke and silica firebricks). This one is from China and came with a lovely lacquered wood stand.
Source: eBay seller birago123456
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 20 February, 2004
Price: $88
Size: 8"
Composition: SiC
Silicon Silicon Carbide crystal

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Silicon Carbide crystal.
The seller swears on a stack of bibles that this is natural (native) bismuth dug out of the ground in this form from the old Trajos silver mine in Chihuahua, Mexico. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The bluish cast does look very much like the film that forms on high-purity bismuth when it is molten, which may explain the sellers honestly mistaken identification. But this crystal is actually silicon carbide, possibly formed in an iron cupola from a reaction between the coke used to melt the iron and the silica fire brick lining the cupola. Because of the insistence of the seller that it was bismuth I made an effort to be absolutely sure about the identification, which was achieved by an SEM-EDS (Scanning Electron Microscope coupled to an Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectrometer) at the Center for Microanalysis of Materials, University of Illinois (partially supported by the U.S. Department of Energy under grant DEFG02-91-ER45439). The instrument allows one to measure the elemental composition of individual microscopic areas of a sample, in this case the cross section of single dendrite broken off the crystal. It showed a ratio of silicon and carbon consistent with silicon carbide on the inside of the dendrite, with a small component of oxygen found on the surface (and no doubt responsible for the bluish film).
Although this very sophisticated instrument allowed a definitive determination of what the crystal actually is, verifying that it is not bismuth requires no special tools: It doesn't melt. Native bismuth in this form would have been quite remarkable, as no such material is known to exist. But the fact that it's not bismuth in no way detracts from the fact that it's very attractive! It is one of the more beautiful crystals in my collection, and I really could care less where it's from.
Source: eBay seller 4jdk
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 28 January, 2004
Price: $95
Size: 4"
Composition: SiC
Silicon Aquamarine Beryl

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Aquamarine Beryl. (External Sample)
The metal beryllium is named after this mineral. It comes in a great variety of shapes and colors.
Location: John Gray's Collection
Photographed: 11 March, 2003
Size: 3"
Composition: Be3Al2Si6O18
Silicon Aquamarine Beryl

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Aquamarine Beryl. (External Sample)
The metal beryllium is named after this mineral. I used to say here that beryl was named after beryllium, but reader Jeffrey Shallit kindly pointed out the absurdity of that notion, since the mineral was known and named long before the metal. He writes:
The word beryl comes from ancient Greek and according to the OED, first appeared in English in 1305. But beryllium was not discovered until 1797 and the word "beryllium" did not appear in English until 1863.
Beryllium the metal is fairly plain looking and toxic, while beryl the mineral is quite beautiful and comes in a great variety of shapes and colors.
Location: John Gray's Collection
Photographed: 11 March, 2003
Size: 3"
Composition: Be3Al2Si6O18
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Silicon Garnierite from Jensan Set

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Garnierite from Jensan Set.
This sample represents nickel in the "The Grand Tour of the Periodic Table" mineral collection from Jensan Scientifics. Visit my page about element collecting for a general description, or see photographs of all the samples from the set in a periodic table layout or with bigger pictures in numerical order.
Source: Jensan Scientifics
Contributor: Jensan Scientifics
Acquired: 17 March, 2003
Price: Donated
Size: 1"
Composition: (Ni,Mg)3Si2O5(OH)4
Silicon Rutile Quartz from Jensan Set

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Rutile Quartz from Jensan Set.
This sample represents titanium (in the needles) in the "The Grand Tour of the Periodic Table" mineral collection from Jensan Scientifics. Visit my page about element collecting for a general description, or see photographs of all the samples from the set in a periodic table layout or with bigger pictures in numerical order.
Source: Jensan Scientifics
Contributor: Jensan Scientifics
Acquired: 17 March, 2003
Price: Donated
Size: 1"
Composition: TiO2+SiO2
Silicon Rutile Quartz from Jensan Set

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Rutile Quartz from Jensan Set.
This sample represents titanium (in the needles) in the "The Grand Tour of the Periodic Table" mineral collection from Jensan Scientifics. Visit my page about element collecting for a general description, or see photographs of all the samples from the set in a periodic table layout or with bigger pictures in numerical order.
Source: Jensan Scientifics
Contributor: Jensan Scientifics
Acquired: 17 March, 2003
Price: Donated
Size: 1"
Composition: TiO2+SiO2
Silicon Quartz from Jensan Set

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Quartz from Jensan Set.
This sample represents silicon in the "The Grand Tour of the Periodic Table" mineral collection from Jensan Scientifics. Visit my page about element collecting for a general description, or see photographs of all the samples from the set in a periodic table layout or with bigger pictures in numerical order.
Source: Jensan Scientifics
Contributor: Jensan Scientifics
Acquired: 17 March, 2003
Price: Donated
Size: 1"
Composition: SiO2
Silicon Sodalite from Jensan Set

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Sodalite from Jensan Set.
This sample represents sodium in the "The Grand Tour of the Periodic Table" mineral collection from Jensan Scientifics. Visit my page about element collecting for a general description, or see photographs of all the samples from the set in a periodic table layout or with bigger pictures in numerical order.
Source: Jensan Scientifics
Contributor: Jensan Scientifics
Acquired: 17 March, 2003
Price: Donated
Size: 1"
Composition: Na4Al3Si3O12Cl
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!
Silicon Apophyllite from Jensan Set

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Apophyllite from Jensan Set.
This sample represents oxygen in the "The Grand Tour of the Periodic Table" mineral collection from Jensan Scientifics. Visit my page about element collecting for a general description, or see photographs of all the samples from the set in a periodic table layout or with bigger pictures in numerical order.
Source: Jensan Scientifics
Contributor: Jensan Scientifics
Acquired: 17 March, 2003
Price: Donated
Size: 1"
Composition: KCa4Si8O20(F,OH).8H2O + KCa4Si8O20(OH,F).8H2O
Silicon Aquamarine Beryl from Jensan Set

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Aquamarine Beryl from Jensan Set.
This sample represents beryllium in the "The Grand Tour of the Periodic Table" mineral collection from Jensan Scientifics. Visit my page about element collecting for a general description, or see photographs of all the samples from the set in a periodic table layout or with bigger pictures in numerical order.
Source: Jensan Scientifics
Contributor: Jensan Scientifics
Acquired: 17 March, 2003
Price: Donated
Size: 1"
Composition: Be3Al2Si6O18
Silicon Lepidolite from Jensan Set

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Lepidolite from Jensan Set.
This sample represents lithium in the "The Grand Tour of the Periodic Table" mineral collection from Jensan Scientifics. Visit my page about element collecting for a general description, or see photographs of all the samples from the set in a periodic table layout or with bigger pictures in numerical order.
Source: Jensan Scientifics
Contributor: Jensan Scientifics
Acquired: 17 March, 2003
Price: Donated
Size: 1"
Composition: K(Li,Al)3(Si,Al)4O10(F,OH)2
The Elements book Mad Science book Periodic Table Poster  Click here to buy a book, photographic periodic table poster, card deck, or 3D print based on the images you see here!