ON SILICONby@scientificamerican

ON SILICON

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It is known that platinum heated in a forge fire, in contact with carbon, becomes fusible. Boussingault has shown that this is due to the formation of a silicide of platinum by means of the reduction of the silica of the carbon by the metal. MM. P. Schützenberger and A. Colson have produced the same phenomenon by heating to white heat a slip of platinum in the center of a thick layer of lampblack free from silica. The increase in weight of the metal and the augmentation of its fusibility were found to be due, in this case also, to a combination with silicon. As the silicon could not come directly from the carbon which surrounded the platinum, MM. Schützenberger and Colson have endeavored to discover under what form it could pass from the walls of the crucible through a layer of lampblack several centimeters in thickness, in spite of a volatility amounting to almost nothing under the conditions of the experiment. They describe the following experiments as serving to throw some light upon the question: A thin slip of platinum rolled in a spiral is placed in a small crucible of retort carbon closed by a turned cover of the same material. This is placed in a second larger crucible of refractory clay, and the intervening space filled with lampblack tightly packed. The whole is then heated to white heat for an hour and a half in a good wind furnace. After cooling, the platinum is generally found to have been fused into a button, with a marked increase in weight due to taking up silicon, which has penetrated in the form of vapor through the walls of the interior crucible.
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