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Types of Silicon

Apr. 09, 2024
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Silicon or other semiconductor materials used for solar cells can be single crystalline, multicrystalline, polycrystalline or amorphous. The key difference between these materials is the degree to which the semiconductor has a regular, perfectly ordered crystal structure, and therefore semiconductor material may be classified according to the size of the crystals making up the material.

Terms for Crystalline Silicon Solar Cells .

Terminology for various types of crystalline silicon (c-Si).

Descriptor Symbol Grain Size Common Growth Techniques Single crystal sc-Si >10cm Czochralski (CZ) float zone (FZ) Multicrystalline mc-Si 1mm-10cm Cast, sheet, ribbon Polycrystalline pc-Si 1µm-1mm Chemical-vapour deposition Microcrystalline µc-Si <1µm Plasma deposition

High-consistency silicone rubber is also called “solid silicone” or “gum stock.” It is made up of high molecular weight polysiloxane chains. HCR can contain a variety of fillers to enhance special properties, such as hardness and heat resistance. HCR can be cured using either peroxide curing systems or platinum catalyst formulations. The latter creates no chemical byproducts during curing. The material is sold in bulk forms such as: bars, tubes, and cylinders for further processing. HCR is an outstanding material for long-term implantable medical devices, automotive engine components, and many consumer household products.

Which Types of Silicone are Classified as Elastomers?

All types of silicone products are elastomers. An elastomer is a rubbery polymer (like silicone) that is viscoelastic (has both viscous and elastic properties). When an elastomeric material like silicone is stressed and then released, its deformation will have both a normal, quick response to the release of the stress (elastic) and a slower, time-dependent recovery response (viscous).

To learn more, see our guide on Silicone Material.

What Are the Other Forms of Silicone?

Silicone can take many forms:

  • Emulsion: Silicone emulsions consist of silicone molecules suspended in a stabilized water solution. Applications include: lubricants, release agents, and cleaning and polishing compounds to enhance spread and durability.
  • Oil: Silicone oils are simple, linear polysiloxane chains that can slip past each other, providing a lubricating action. They may be used as hydraulic fluids and lubricating oils, and as raw materials for further processing. 
  • Liquid: Liquid silicone rubber is fluid enough to be used for precision injection molding. It is usually a two-part formulation that is mixed just before entering the mold. Applications for liquid silicone rubber include: gaskets, potting for electronics, formed parts, and medical devices.
  • Caulk: Caulk is a viscous, room-temperature vulcanizing form of silicone. It has superior workability, adhesion, and durability.
  • Resin: Silicone resins are usually thermosetting products with branching molecules that form densely cross-linked structures. They are used in adhesives, protective and water-repellent coatings, and heat-resistant paints.
  • Grease: Silicone grease is made by adding fillers to silicone oil. The resulting thermally stable product lubricates the desired surfaces. It also conducts heat and protects against moisture and other chemicals. Mold release, glass joint seals, and electrical contact protection are some of the applications for silicone grease.
  • Gel: Silicone gel is made from a two-part, platinum-catalyzed liquid formulation. It may contain additional oils or softeners to reach the right consistency for forming into thin sheets or packets. This form of silicone has been used in the medical field for scar reduction.
  • Foam: Silicone foam is created by adding outgassing agents to liquid silicone. These agents are controlled to allow the manufacture of both open and closed-cell foams of varying densities. The foam may have a smooth skin – as for use in gaskets and spacers, or a rough surface, as may be acceptable in gap-fillers, pipe insulation, and other applications. 
  • Solid: Solid silicone rubber usually refers to a type of silicone that has long polymer chains and high molecular weight. It is also called “high-consistency rubber” (HCR). When cured, it is relatively dense and hard. It can be formed into final products such as tubing, engine mounts, seals, and gaskets.

For more information, see our guide on the properties of silicone.

How is Silicone Classified?

All forms of silicone can be classified as non-organic elastomeric polymers. As a group, they are flexible, non-chemically reactive, resist degradation by ultraviolet radiation, maintain their mechanical properties over a wide range of temperatures, and are considered non-toxic when used appropriately. 

Silicones can be adapted into many different forms, and for thousands of end uses. They can be liquids, pastes, gels, foams, or solids. Silicones can be chemically tailored for extra strength, thermal stability, electrical conductivity, or chemical resistance.

Is Silicone a Type of Rubber?

Silicone (polydimethylsiloxane) is a type of rubber. It is a polymer built on a backbone of alternating silicon and oxygen atoms. This polymer displays the highly elastic properties required of a rubber. Silicone rubber is a useful, if more recent, addition to the rubber family. It offers better performance at temperature extremes than natural rubber and can be tailored for a broader range of physical and mechanical properties.

Is Liquid Rubber the Same as Silicone?

A liquid rubber sealant can be silicone-based, but it may also be based on other suitable materials, such as polyurethane. “Liquid Rubber” usually refers to thin sealants that can be applied to large areas such as driveways, roofs, and underground cement walls. The term “Liquid Silicone Rubber” (LSR) always means silicone. LSR is the raw material used for injection molding, joining/bonding surfaces, and sealing applications.

Contact a Xometry representative for help in deciding on the right composition and manufacturing techniques to produce high-quality silicone components or check our quoting tool. 

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