How was Silicon discovered? | History of Silicon


Discovery of Silicon

In 1787, the French chemist Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier first discovered the silicon present in rocks. In 1800, silicon was mistaken by Sir Humphry Davy as a compound. In 1811, French chemists Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac and Louis Jacques Thénard probably prepared impure amorphous Silicon by heating potassium with silicon tetrafluoride. They later named it silicon according to the Latin silex (meteorite).

Until 1823, silicon was first discovered in the form of a metal element by the Swedish chemist Jöns Jacob Berzelius. One year later, he extracted amorphous silicon in much the same way as Gay-Lussac, and then purified the elemental silicon by repeated cleaning; in the same year, he heated the silicon oxide powder and the mixture of iron and carbon at a high temperature and obtain the iron silicide.

In order to extract pure silicon, Berzelius dry-fired the silicon-fluorine-calcium compound, hydrolyzed the obtained solid, and manage to obtain the pure silicon. In 1824, in Stockholm, Berzelius obtained relatively pure silicon powder by heating potassium fluorosilicate and potassium. Therefore, it is agreed that the honor of discovering silicon belongs to Berzelius.

Properties of Silicon

Symbol: Si
Atomic Number: 14
Atomic Weight: 28.09
Element Category: metalloid
Color: dark gray with a bluish tinge
Density: 2328.3 kg/m³
Hardness: 6.5
Proportion in Earth’s Crust: 25.7%
Other Names: Silicium, Silicio

Application of Silicon

High-purity monocrystalline silicon is an important semiconductor material that can be used as a solar cell to convert radiant energy into electrical energy, which is a promising material in the development of energy.

Silicon can also be made into cermet composites, which are resistant to high temperatures, toughness, and can be cut. They not only inherit the respective advantages of metals and ceramics, but also make up for the inherent defects of both, and can be applied to weapons manufacturing and aerospace.

Pure silica can be used to draw high transparency glass fiber for optical fiber communication, which is the latest modern communication means.

Please visit for more information.

How was aluminum discovered?| History of Aluminum


Humphry Davy
Humphry Davy

Compared with other metal elements we discussed about before, Aluminum is discovered much later. In 1808, the British chemist Sir Humphry Davy confirmed the existence of alum and named the substance to Alumium (later changed to Aluminum).

In 1825, Danish chemist and physicist Hans Christian Ørsted began experimenting about aluminum extraction. However, it was not until 1827 that Friedrich Wöhler reduced the molten anhydrous aluminum chloride with potassium metal to obtain a purer metallic aluminum element.

As precious as gold

However, as Wöhler’s method could not yield great quantities of aluminium, the metal remained rare; its cost exceeded that of gold. It is for this reason that aluminum was in a high position at that time. It is said that at a banquet, the French emperor Napoleon used aluminum knives and forks alone, while others used silver tableware. Also, the king of Thailand once used an aluminum bracelet.

Mass production

Charles Martin Hall
Charles Martin Hall

In 1886, French engineer Paul Héroult and American engineer Charles Martin Hall, respectively, independently electrolyzed a mixture of molten bauxite and cryolite to produce metal aluminum, which laid the foundation for large-scale production of aluminum in the future. Since then, the status of aluminum has changed completely, mainly in two aspects: first, it is mass-produced and is no longer regarded as a precious metal; the mass production of aluminum in industrial and domestic applications has gradually replaced the use of other metals such as steel and copper in many fields.

Application Prospect

At present, the aluminum industry has problems such as overcapacity and insufficient utilization, so the development prospects of the aluminum industry in the short term are not optimistic.

However, due to the abundant reserves of aluminum in the earth’s crust and the advantages over other metal elements, aluminum will have extremely broad application prospects in the future. For example, automakers are currently exploring the use of large-area aluminum alloy instead of steel to make the car lighter.

With the advancement of technology, aluminum alloy products will not only grow rapidly in traditional applications such as aerospace, transportation, electronic power, and construction, but will also grow rapidly in other new fields.


This is a history column of SAM Sputter Target, aiming at introducing the history of different metals. If you are a metal lover or history lover, you can follow our website. For previous posts of this column please search the keyword “history”.


Please visit for more information.

Discovery and application of vanadium | History of Vanadium

Discovery of vanadium

Andrés Manuel del Río
Andrés Manuel del Río

In 1801, the Mexican mineralogist Andrés Manuel del Río discovered a new element similar in nature to chromium and uranium when he studied lead ore. Its salt is red when heated in acid, so Leo named it red mud. However, it is actually vanadium.


In 1830, the Swedish chemist Nils Gabriel Sefström isolated a new element in the refining process of iron. Due to its brilliant color, he named it Vanadium under the name of the beautiful goddess Vanadis in Greek mythology. In the same year, the German chemist Friedrich Wöhler proved that Vanadium was the same element as the red element discovered by the early Andrés Manuel del Río – vanadium.

Henry Roscoe
Henry Roscoe

In 1867, the British chemist Henry Roscoe reduced the vanadium chloride (VCl3) with hydrogen to produce metal vanadium for the first time.

The origin of the name

A long time ago, a beautiful goddess named Vanadis lived in the far north. One day, a distant guest came knocking on the door. The goddess was sitting leisurely on the circle chair. She thought: If he knocked again, I would open the door. However, the knock on the door stopped and the guest left. Vanadis wants to know who this person is, why is he so lacking in self-confidence? So she opened the window and looked out. It turned out that a man named Wöhler was coming out of her yard. A few days later, the goddess heard someone knocking on the door again, and the knocking of the door didn’t stop until the goddess opened the door. This is a young and handsome man named Sefström. The goddess soon fell in love with him and gave birth to his son, vanadium.

The application history of vanadium

After discovering the metal of vanadium, people gradually learned about its properties and began to apply it to our daily lives. In 1882, a British company used vanadium-containing slag containing 1.1% vanadium to produce vanadium phosphate with an annual output of about 60 tons.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Russia began to reduce iron and vanadium oxides by carbon reduction, and for the first time prepared vanadium-iron alloys (including V35% to 40%). From 1902 to 1903, Russia tested an aluminothermic method for the preparation of ferrovanadium.

At the end of the 19th century, the study also found that vanadium can significantly improve the mechanical properties of steel in steel, making vanadium widely used in industry. By the beginning of the 20th century, people began to mine vanadium.

So far, the world’s vanadium-producing ore is mainly composed of vanadium-titanium magnetite, and there are abundant resources in Russia, South Africa, China, Australia and the United States. In addition, vanadium uranium, bauxite, phosphate rock, carbonaceous shale, petroleum combustion ash, spent catalyst, etc. can also be considered as resources of vanadium.

This is a history column, aiming at introducing the discovery of different kinds of metals. If you are a metal lover or history lover, you can follow our website. For previous posts of this column please search the keyword “history”.

Please visit for more information.

Discovery and development of tungsten | History of Tungsten


The history of tungsten dates back to the 17th century. At that time, miners in the Erzgebirge Mountains of Saxony, Germany, noticed that some of the ore would interfere with the reduction of cassiterite and produce slag. The miners gave the mines some German nicknames: “wolfert” and “wolfrahm”.

Axel Fredrik Cronstedt
Axel Fredrik Cronstedt

In 1758, the Swedish chemist and mineralogist Axel Fredrik Cronstedt discovered a mineral called “tungsten”, which means “heavy stone” in Swedish. He was convinced that this mineral contained an element that had not yet been discovered.


Continue reading “Discovery and development of tungsten | History of Tungsten”

How was niobium discovered? | History of Niobium

Last week, we talked about the discovery of Titanium, which raised many interest. So we decide to start a history column, aiming at introducing the discovery of different kinds of metals. If you are a metal lover or history lover, you can follow our website. For previous posts of this column please search the keyword “history”. So let’s get down to the point. Today SAM Sputter Targets will teach you the history lesson of Niobium.

niobium hostorySAM®Niobium, often found in the minerals pyrochlore and columbite, is a silver-gray, soft and ductile rare metal with high melting point. At normal temperature, niobium does not react with air, but it can directly combine with sulfur, nitrogen and carbon at high temperatures to form NbS2, NbN and NbC. Niobium does not react with inorganic acids or alkalis, and is insoluble in aqua regia, but soluble in hydrofluoric acid. Because of its good superconductivity, high melting point, corrosion resistance and wear resistance, niobium is widely used in steel, superconducting materials, aerospace, atomic energy and other fields.

Continue reading “How was niobium discovered? | History of Niobium”

How was titanium discovered? | History of Titanium

Titanium historySAM®Titanium is a metal element that is known as “space metal” because of its light weight, high strength and good corrosion resistance. The most common compound of titanium is titanium dioxide, and other compounds include titanium tetrachloride and titanium trichloride. At present, titanium is widely used in aerospace, automotive, medical, marine and other fields. Its abundant reserves provide a resource base for the wide application of titanium – titanium is one of the most widely distributed and abundant elements in the earth’s crust, accounting for 0.16% of the crustal mass, ranking ninth. However, do you know how this magical element was discovered? Let SAM Sputter Targets give you a history lesson.

Continue reading “How was titanium discovered? | History of Titanium”