The story goes as follow:

While I was in the electronic room I got bored and crushed a PNP transistor (Model CDIL 2N2907) using a rotating pipe jaws just like in the picture bellow.

Now, it took me some time to realize that I hear something like a sizzle or a tiny fire sound. I looked at the crushed transistor and I saw a hole in the bent metal.

I am almost clueless in Chemistry, but I guessed that there was some kind of reaction with the substance when exposed to air (Normal air in Temperature room about 20C)

I looked at the datasheet of the exact part: CDIL 2N2907 and I couldn't find any Chemistry info apart for the presence of silicon.

I do know that a N-doped semiconductor \ P-doped semiconductor are being used and in this case the semiconductor is silicon.

My question: Does (doped) silicon become toxic when exposed to air? Maybe there are other well known substances (insulator) being used with silicon when creating PNP that could react to air?

Also, the room had light (Fluorescent white light). Could it had any effects?

Thank in advance for any information on the matter.

Edit : The sound of sizziling came after I already crushed the transistor. Of course there was sound while crushing - of metal and more.

Rotrating pipe jaws:

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Breaking transistors out of boredom is stupid! You will definitely die - some day and due to old age. Case closed. $\endgroup$ Feb 26, 2015 at 18:53
  • $\begingroup$ The sound was likely (case, die, substrate, wirebonds) breaking. As for toxicity, I suppose if you pulverized the silicon finely enough, made sure it was oxidized, and inhaled deeply you could get silicosis. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Feb 26, 2015 at 19:39
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe, although silicosis is generally the result of long-term exposure to silica dust in environments where it's difficult to avoid breathing it (construction, mining). $\endgroup$
    – J. LS
    Feb 27, 2015 at 11:54

1 Answer 1


The semiconductor itself is harmless, but, since you heard some sizzling, it is possible that a getter, such as an alkali metal, was in the metal-cased component. There is a patent for getters to be used with semiconductors, http://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/pdfs/US3259490.pdf, though I've never seen one in use.

More likely, you heard the glass header breaking.


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