Groups :

 Carbon Family

Tool: Interactive Periodic Table

About the Group
Group 14 is the carbon family. The five members are carbon, silicon, germanium, tin, and lead. All of these elements have four electrons in their outermost energy level. Of the Group 14 elements, only carbon and silicon form bonds as nonmetals (sharing electrons covalently). Silicon and germanium are semimetals (metalloids), existing in compounds with either +4 or -4 charges. Tin and lead are definitely metals. They always lose electrons due to the distance of their outer shells from the nucleus. They usually form compounds as cations with a +4 charge. All of the elements of this family can form four bonds, the most of any family.

Chemical Properties
The element carbon is the basis of life. It is found in all living material. Silicon is a semiconductor used commonly in computer chips and solar cells. It is also the second most abundant element in the earth's crust. Silicon dioxide, SiO2, is the major component of glass. Germanium has important semiconductor properties and is used in the computer industry. It is one of the few elements that expand when frozen. Lead has long been used for plumbing and is also used to block radiation. Tin was once used to make cans because it is relatively stable -- unreactive. Aluminum has replaced the more expensive tin today.

Illustration highlighting the carbon family on the periodic table