Silicon vs Carbon
Carbon and silicon, both are in the same group (group 14) of the periodic table. Hence, they have four electrons in the outer energy level. They occur in two oxidation states, +2 and +4. And both exist as giant molecular lattices.
Carbon is everywhere. There are millions of compounds, which are made with carbon. We can say that, carbon is the framework for our body. One reason for this is the ability of carbon to form four covalent bonds with a large number of elements. These compounds are stable and can be either chains or rings. Carbon atoms are small, and this allows two carbon atoms to come closer, so that electrons in p orbitals can overlap forming multiple bonds.
Carbon has the atomic number six. It is a non metal in the group 14 in the periodic table. The electron configuration of Carbon is 1s2 2s2 2p2. Carbon is a black/grey color solid. As pure carbon, the most common forms are graphite, coal and diamond. In graphite, hexagonally arranged carbon atoms form layers. There is a small gap between the layers, and electrons are delocalized within the layers. Because of this, graphite has electrical conductivity. Diamond is the hardest mineral known to us. Each carbon is attached to four other carbons with covalent bonds, and this unit repeats to form diamonds. Therefore, diamond has a rigid tetrahedral network. Diamond is a good thermal conductor, and it has especial optical characteristics.
Silicon is the element with atomic number 14, and it is also in the group 14 of the periodic table, just below carbon. It is shown by the symbol Si. Its electron configuration is 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p2. Silicon can remove four electrons and form a +4 charged cation, or it can share these electrons to form four covalent bonds. Silicon is characterized as a metalloid, because it has both metal and nonmetal properties. Silicon is a hard and inert metalloid solid. The melting point of silicon is 1414 oC and boiling point is 3265 oC. Crystal like silicon is very brittle. It exists very rarely as pure silicon in nature. Mainly, it occurs as the oxide or silicate. Since the silicon is protected with an outer oxide layer, it is less susceptible to chemical reactions. High temperatures are needed for it to oxidize. In contrast, silicon reacts with fluorine at room temperature. Silicon does not react with acids, but reacts with concentrated alkalis.
There are lots of industrial uses of silicon. Silicon is a semiconductor, therefore, used in computers and electronic devices. Silicon compounds like silica or silicates are widely used in ceramic, glass and cement industries.
What is the difference between Carbon and silicon?
- Carbon is a nonmetal, and silicon is a metalloid.
- Carbon and silicon have the same common electron configuration as s2, p2. But in silicon, the electrons are spread into the 3rd energy level, whereas in carbon it is only to the 2nd energy level. This difference occurs because of carbon in the 2nd period, but silicon in the 3rd.
- Silicon is less reactive than carbon.
- Silicon atom is larger than the carbon atom.
- Pure carbon compounds occur in nature such as diamond, graphite and coal. But pure silicon compounds are hardly found. They exist as oxides or silicates.