Today we are going to talk about silicones and their often misunderstood uses. What is a silicone? How is it used? We make the point!
What are Silicones?
Silicones are a type of synthetic polymer, a material made up of small repeating chemical units called monomers, linked together in long chains. Silicone consists of a silicon-oxygen structure, with “side chains” consisting of hydrogen and/or hydrocarbon groups attached to the silicon atoms. Because its backbone does not contain carbon, silicone is considered an inorganic polymer, which differentiates it from many organic polymers whose backbone is made of carbon.
Silicone vs. Silicone vs. Silica
Although “silicone” and “silicon” are spelled similarly, they are not the same thing. Silicone contains silicon, an atomic element with an atomic number of 14. Silicon is a naturally occurring element with many uses, especially as a semiconductor in electronics. Silicone, on the other hand, is man-made and does not conduct electricity, as it is an insulator . Silicone cannot be used as part of a chip inside a cell phone, although it is a popular material for cell phone cases. “Silica,” which sounds like “silicon,” refers to a molecule consisting of one silicon atom bonded to two oxygen atoms. Quartz is made from silica.
In which industries is silicone used?
Silicone is durable, easy to manufacture and stable over a wide range of chemicals and temperatures. For these reasons, silicone has been widely marketed and is used in many industries, including automotive, construction, energy, electronics, chemicals, coatings, textiles and personal care. The polymer also has a variety of other applications, ranging from additives to printing inks and ingredients found in deodorants.
To learn more about the use of silicones in electronics, we invite you to visit the website of the manufacturer Elkem which is particularly explicit: https://www.elkem.com/silicones/offer/industrial-assembly-electronic-protection/electronics-solar/electronics/
What are types of silicone and their uses?
There are several different forms of silicone, which vary in their degree of cross-linking. The degree of crosslinking describes how interconnected the silicone chains are, with higher values resulting in a stiffer silicone material. This variable alters properties such as the
strength of the polymer and its melting point. We can distinguish the following different forms of silicones.
● Silicone fluids , also called silicone oils, consist of straight chains of the silicone polymer without crosslinking. These fluids have found use as lubricants, paint additives and ingredients in cosmetics.
● Silicone gels have few cross-links between the polymer chains. These gels have been used in cosmetics and as a topical formulation for scar tissue, as the silicone forms a barrier that helps the skin stay moisturized. Silicone gels are also used as materials for breast implants and the soft part of some shoe insoles .
● Silicone elastomers, also called silicone rubbers, include even more crosslinking, producing a rubber-like material. These rubbers have found use as insulators in the electronics industry, seals in aerospace vehicles and oven mitts.
● Silicone resins are a rigid form of silicone and have a high crosslink density. These resins have found use in heat-resistant coatings and as weather-resistant materials to protect buildings.
For more information on the use of silicones in the industry, do not hesitate to research further by consulting the manufacturers’ websites. Youtube can also help you to see more clearly.