The unique silicone composition makes it exhibit plastic and rubber properties. It is also called polysiloxane.
Polysiloxane is a hybrid material that shares many properties with plastic and synthetic rubber.
So, what exactly makes silicone have its unique properties?
It is mainly due to the unique atom and chemical bonds that makes silicone a superior material in the modern industry.
Now let’s explore what makes silicone
Silicone is made of many chemical additives. We get these additives from fossils fuel.
Ideally, silicon is the main building block in silicone. Usually, this is not the case in plastic which is carbon-based molecules.
When discussing silicone composition, there are three main terms that can be so confusing:
Silica or silicon dioxide forms the key material when manufacturing silicone resin. Silicon dioxide occurs naturally as quartz. It forms the significant composition of beach sand.
It is for this reason people say silicone is made of sand.
The truth is – we reduce silica to form silicon. Then you will react silicon with other compounds to produce silicones.
Silicon is the primary material for making silica. You will not find silicon occurring naturally. Using an industrial furnace you will heat a mixture of silica and carbon in an industrial furnace to get silicon.
So, silicone and silicon are not the same.
Additionally, Silicon (Si) is a metalloid. It is the 14th element in the periodic table. A metalloid is a substance with both metal and non-metal properties.
As mention earlier, you will not find a pure form of silicon existing naturally.
First, silicone has 4 key elements including silicon, oxygen, carbon and hydrogen. Looking at the structure, silicon and oxygen are the main building block in silicone. Furthermore, the hydrocarbon forms the side groups.
Remember, this unique structure contribute to the plastic properties that silicone exhibit.
You get siloxane monomers when you react with hydrocarbon from fossil fuels. You will bond siloxane monomers forming silicone resin.
Ideally, silicone has both organic and inorganic atoms. It is the C-Si bonds that attach the organic groups to silicon atoms.
Summary of Silicone Composition Elements
Generally, we can express silicone composition formula as:
In this formulae, the letter “R” is mainly the organic group in the silicone
|Building Block in Silicone
Is Silicone a Plastic or Rubber?
Silicone material tends to exhibit rubber and plastic properties. Consequently, making it a hybrid material.
Unlike most industrial polymers, silicone molecule backbone does not contain carbon. Even though it has class 2 organic compounds, they are attached to the silicon atom.
In short, silicone is made of silicon, carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen. The bond between these elements gives it unique characteristics suitable for various silicone applications.
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