Silicone – Material Science And History

Many of our doorbells, house numbers and signs can be attached using silicone. This relatively young material replaces screws and dowels and makes fastening much easier. But what are silicones anyway, how do you make them, what are their properties, and what are they used for? We are naturally curious and wanted answers to our questions. Since we think that you are also a little curious and would like to find out more about silicones, we wrote down our answers and made a blog article out of them. Come with us on an exciting journey into the world of unique material.

Silicone – What Is It?

Silicones are the name for a group of synthetic polymers. Here silicon atoms are linked with oxygen atoms to form molecular chains, which then look something like a network. But before we torment you with too much chemistry right from the start, we would like to point out what is particularly interesting about silicone. Silicones have an inorganic structure, but at the same time also have organic residues in the form of hydrocarbons. This places the silicones between the silicates and the organic polymers. This hybrid shape gives the material properties that no other plastic can combine.

A Little Journey Through The History

Before we take a closer look at these unique properties and the production and use of silicone, we want to clarify who invented or discovered it. It all started with the English chemist Frederick Stanley Kipping, who experimented with silicon and its compounds. In doing so, by chance, as is usually the case, he discovered a large number of silicon-carbon compounds. He called these resinous products silicon ketones. This is where the term silicone is derived.

The history of silicone (เร ซิ่น) has another striking point in 1940. The US American Eugene C. Rochow and the German Richard Müller, both chemists, found a way of producing methylchloric acid as an intermediate product of the silicone on an industrial scale. But not together, but independently of each other. The manufacturing process is still called Müller-Rochow synthesis today.

Müller himself continued to research excessively in Radebeul near Dresden. He reports on his breakthrough in the discovery of silicone that he was researching to create an artificial fog that could envelop entire cities. How so? Quite simply, there was no radar yet, and he wanted to make the cities and their targets invisible to an attack with this fog. What he discovered in his experiments was a viscous white mass instead of a mist – the silicone. In the GDR he then succeeded in starting his first silicone production and established an institute for silicone chemistry to be able to conduct more specialized research, also with colleagues.

The Manufacture Of Silicone

Silicon is made from the raw materials silicon, which is ground to fine dust, and methylchlorod. Copper is used as a catalyst for the chemical reaction. It is formed by the above-mentioned Müller-Rochow synthesis converted to chloromethylsilanes. In this process, the chloromethylsilanes are separated into a large number of possible compounds by fractional distillation. Siloxanes can be di-, tri- or also tetrafunctional. There are linear designs, branched polysiloxanes, cyclic and cross-linked, ring-shaped siloxanes.

The many different possibilities of the compounds, which also arise from how many other substituents are bound to the silicon, resulting in the many possible uses and unique properties of the silicone as sanitary silicone, high-temperature silicone, universal silicone, silicone resin, fluorosilicone, liquid silicone, silicone rubber, silicone resin or silicone oil and many other unique silicones.