Although silicon is readily available in the form of silicates, biology only uses it in very limited occasions in the form of silicic acid and soluble silicates. Diatoms, radiolaria and siliceous sponges use biogenic silica as a structural material to construct skeletons. In higher plants the silica phytoliths (opal phytoliths) are rigid microscopic bodies occurring in the cell. Although silicon was proposed to be a ultra trace nutrition its exact function in the biology of animals is still under discussion. It seems more clear that some plants, for example rice, need silicon for their growth.
In popular culture
Because silicon is an important element in semiconductors and high-technology devices, Silicon Valley in California is named after this element since it is the base for a number of technology related industries. Other geographic locations with connections to the industry have since characterized themselves as Siliconia as well, for example Silicon Forest in Oregon, Silicon Hills in Austin, Silicon Saxony in Germany, Silicon Valley in India, and Silicon Border in Mexicali.