What are Silicones?

Silicones are the polymers which are also known by the name polysiloxanes. These are the polymers that involve any inert, synthetic compound made up of iterative units of siloxane. It is a chain of alternating oxygen and silicon atoms that are frequently combined with hydrogen and carbon.

Silicons are the present time class of synthetic objects and contribute to thousands of applications that offer safety and wellbeing in everyday life.

Composition and Structure

The silicones are different from many industrial polymers where the chain of atoms that build the backbones of their molecules does not include carbon, being the characteristic member of organic compounds. The absence of carbon makes silicone a unique polymer, though maximum members of class II organic groups such as methyl(CH3), vinyl(CH2) are linked to every silicon atom.

The general formula of silicone is (R2SiO)x, where R belongs to any one of the organic groups.

Poly-dimethylsiloxane is the most silicone compound can which illustrates the primary characteristics of the organic class. The first substance is the metallic silicon, obtained from the silica sand. The silicon reacts with methyl chloride (Ch3Cl) and forms dimethyldichlorosilane ([CH3]2Si[Cl]2), over a copper catalyst. When this compound is made to react with water, the atoms of chlorine gets replaced by hydroxyl groups(OH). The resulting compound, silanol ([CH3]2Si[OH]2) polymerizes in a condensation reaction. Every individual unit of molecules links together to form poly-dimethylsiloxane with associated loss of water.

The dimethylsiloxane iterative units of a polymer have the structure as shown below.

Applications of Silicones

Silicones can acquire many forms from liquids to solids that allow engineers, inventors, and companies to use them as a key component in various industrial applications. It is their versatile quality that makes silicones an essential ingredient in products that make our lives better, whether as rubbers, fluids, resins, silicone gels or silicon glue. Silicones can be found in a countless number of application starting from computers and engineered spacecraft, shampoo to baking molds. Silicones can also be consumed in renewable energy starting from wind turbines to solar panels rely on silicone technology.

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Laboratory Thermometers used to measure the temperature of boiling water