It may come as a surprise, but silicon and silicone are two very different things. In short, silicon is a naturally occurring chemical element, whereas silicone is a synthetic substance.
Silicon is the 14th element on the periodic table. It's a metalloid, meaning it has properties of both metals and nonmetals, and is the second most abundant element in the Earth's crust, after oxygen. Elemental silicon is a major player in modern electronics because it's an ideal semiconductor of electricity. When heated into a molten state, silicon can be formed into semi-conductive wafers, to serve as the base for integrated circuits (microchips).
Silicone, by contrast, is a synthetic polymer made up of silicon, oxygen and other elements, most typically carbon and hydrogen. Silicone is generally a liquid or a flexible, rubberlike plastic, and has a number of useful properties, such as low toxicity and high heat resistance. It also provides good electrical insulation. In the medical field, silicone can be found in implants, catheters, contact lenses, bandages and a variety of other things. It can also be found in a number of personal care items, including shampoos, shaving cream and personal lubricants. The purity of Silicone can be determined by Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP) utilizing Optical or Mass detectors depending on detection levels required.
Due to its high heat resistance, silicone makes up a lot of kitchenware, such as oven mitts, tongs and pan handles; silicone's non-stick properties also make it useful for cookware coatings. Additionally, the material's heat resistance and slipperiness make it an ideal lubricant for automotive parts (as a lubricating spray or grease). In other industries, silicone is commonly used as a sealant for watertight containers (e.g., aquariums) and plumbing pipes.
Testing of Silicones is very specialized and requires a great understanding of its chemistry. Impact Analytical has recently completed projects such as:
- Evaluation of Polymer Materials for Silicone Extractables following ISO 10993-12 and 10993-18
- Characterization of Silicone Rubber Material
- Analysis of Water-Suspended Silicone Particles for Chemical Composition and Total Dissolved Solids
- Analysis of Silicone Valves by HS-GC-MS to Determine Organic Volatiles
- Annex 10 Testing of a Silicone Material for Ag and Al by ICP-OES
- Characterization of Odor from Silicone Valves
- Vinyl and Phenyl Content in Silicone materials by H-NMR
- Characterization of Residuals in Polyurethane and Silicone Tubing Materials
- GC-FID Analysis for D4 and D5 Siloxane Content
- Residual Silicone Analysis
- Elemental analysis utilizing ICP/OES & ICP/MS with HF digestion
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