Silicon Compounds - Compounds


  • Silicon forms binary compounds called silicides with many metallic elements whose properties range from reactive compounds, e.g. magnesium silicide, Mg2Si through high melting refractory compounds such as molybdenum disilicide, MoSi2.
  • Silicon carbide, SiC (carborundum) is a hard, high melting solid and a well known abrasive. It may also be sintered into a type of high-strength ceramic used in armor.
  • Silane, SiH4, is a pyrophoric gas with a similar tetrahedral structure to methane, CH4. When pure, it does not react with pure water or dilute acids; however, even small amounts of alkali impurities from the laboratory glass can result in a rapid hydrolysis. There is a range of catenated silicon hydrides that form a homologous series of compounds, SinH2n+2 where n = 2–8 (analogous to the alkanes). These are all readily hydrolyzed and are thermally unstable, particularly the heavier members.
  • Disilenes contain a silicon-silicon double bond (analogous to the alkenes) and are generally highly reactive requiring large substituent groups to stabilize them. A disilyne with a silicon-silicon triple bond was first isolated in 2004; although as the compound is non-linear, the bonding is dissimilar to that in alkynes.
  • Tetrahalides, SiX4, are formed with all the halogens. Silicon tetrachloride, for example, reacts with water, unlike its carbon analogue, carbon tetrachloride. Silicon dihalides are formed by the high temperature reaction of tetrahalides and silicon; with a structure analogous to a carbene they are reactive compounds. Silicon difluoride condenses to form a polymeric compound, (SiF2)n.
  • Silicon dioxide is a high melting solid with a number of crystal forms; the most familiar of which is the mineral quartz. In quartz each silicon atom is surrounded by four oxygen atoms that bridge to other silicon atoms to form a three dimensional lattice. Silica is soluble in water at high temperatures forming a range of compounds called monosilicic acid, Si(OH)4.
  • Under the right conditions monosilicic acid readily polymerizes to form more complex silicic acids, ranging from the simplest condensate, disilicic acid (H6Si2O7) to linear, ribbon, layer and lattice structures which form the basis of the many silicate minerals and are called polysilicic acids {Six(OH)4–2x}n.
  • With oxides of other elements the high temperature reaction of silicon dioxide can give a wide range of glasses with various properties. Examples include soda lime glass, borosilicate glass and lead crystal glass.
  • Silicon sulfide, SiS2, is a polymeric solid (unlike its carbon analogue the liquid CS2).
  • Silicon forms a nitride, Si3N4 which is a ceramic. Silatranes, a group of tricyclic compounds containing five-coordinate silicon, may have physiological properties.
  • Many transition metal complexes containing a metal-silicon bond are now known, which include complexes containing SiHnX3−n ligands, SiX3 ligands, and Si(OR)3 ligands.
  • Silicones are large group of polymeric compounds with an (Si-O-Si) backbone. An example is the silicone oil PDMS (polydimethylsiloxane). These polymers can be crosslinked to produce resins and elastomers.
  • Many organosilicon compounds are known which contain a silicon-carbon single bond. Many of these are based on a central tetrahedral silicon atom, and some are optically active when central chirality exists. Long chain polymers containing a silicon backbone are known, such as polydimethysilylene (SiMe2)n. Polycarbosilane, n with a backbone containing a repeating -Si-Si-C unit, is a precursor in the production of silicon carbide fibers.

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