RUSSELL KIGHTLEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY RUSSELL KIGHTLEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Silicate molecule, computer artwork. Molecular model of a silicate molecule (SiO4). One silicon atom (yellow) is surrounded by four oxygen atoms (red) in tetrahedral symmetry. Each molecule is surrounded by van der Waals radii (red). Approximately 30% of all minerals are silicates, making them the largest class of minerals. The basic chemical unit, SiO4, can form many structures; double units, chains, sheets, rings and frameworks. Silicates are divided into subclasses based on these structures, rather than their chemistries.
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