- A nonmetallic element, red in powder form, black in vitreous form, and metallic gray in crystalline form, resembling sulfur and obtained primarily as a byproduct of electrolytic copper refining. It is widely used in rectifiers, as a semiconductor, and in xerography. Its photovoltaic and photoconductive actions make it useful in photocells, photographic exposure meters, and solar cells. Atomic number 34; atomic weight 78.96; melting point (of gray selenium) 217°C; boiling point (gray) 684.9°C; specific gravity (gray) 4.79; (vitreous) 4.28; valence 2, 4, or 6. See Table at element. (noun)
American Heritage(R) Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright (c) 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.