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CARLOS CLARIVAN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY CARLOS CLARIVAN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Diagram of the nuclear composition, electron configuration, and valence orbitals of an atom of silicon-28 (atomic number: 14), the most common isotope of this element. The nucleus consists of 14 protons (blue) and 14 neutrons (red). 14 electrons (white) occupy available electron shells (rings). The stability of an element's outer (valence) electrons determines its chemical and physical properties. Silicon, a solid metalloid, is in group 14, period 3, and the p-block of the periodic table. It is one of the elements used in semiconductors, forming the basis of computer technology. It has a melting point of 1414 degrees Celsius.
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