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Fascinating Silicone: A History of Innovation
Fascinating Silicone from Dow Corning
A History of Proven Innovation
Silicone-based materials have a long history of providing value. See how the discovery, development and use of silicone materials have changed our world, for the better.
A Timeline of Innovation
From the Stone Age when silica-based stones were made into tools, to the modern use of silicone structural solutions that keep some of the world’s most prominent buildings standing, silicone has been helping to make the world a better place for all.
Dow Corning’s more than six decades of silicone innovation have delivered lasting benefits to society. And the future is only going to keep improving, with silicone’s use in such diverse fields as sustainable building materials, alternative energy and cutting-edge electronic devices.
Roll over the dates to see how the discovery, development and use of silicone materials have changed our world—and imagine what silicones can enable you to do next.
- In the Stone Age, quartz and other silica-based stones are fashioned into tools.
- When the ancient Romans learn how to turn sand into glass, the evolution of silicon-based technology begins.
- J.J. von Berzelius isolates elemental silicon.
- H.E. Saint-Claire Deville discovers how to synthesize pure silicon through an electrolysis smelting process.
- Dr. Frederick S. Kipping begins synthesizing an extensive array of silicon-carbon compounds, laying the foundation for the commercialization of the “sticky messes” he names “silicones.”
- Scientists at the Melton Institute of Industrial Research begin to transform Kipping’s scholarly work into polymers of practical commercial value.
- Dr. J. Franklin Hyde of Corning Glass produces the first commercially useful silicone product – a silicone resin for impregnating and coasting glass cloth used in electrical insulation.
- Dr. Eugene Rochow develops a direct method for synthesizing silicones on an industrial scale.
- Dow Corning Corporation, a joint venture of Corning Glass and The Dow Chemical Company, is established specifically to explore and develop the full potential of silicones.
- In an attempt to develop a synthetic rubber compound, experimenters combine boric acid and silicone oil. The result is a “bouncing putty” that fails as a rubber but goes on to become one of the most successful toys of the 20th century—SILLY PUTTY®.
- Dr. Earl Warrick of Dow Corning Corporation invents the first commercially viable silicone rubber.
- The “Gripmitt,” a silicone rubber hot pad, is introduced. A precursor to today’s popular silicone oven mitt and kitchenware, the “Gripmitt” is a product ahead of its time.
- Dow Corning commercializes the first silicone finishes for fabric.
- SYL-FLEX®, a silicone leather treatment used in the tanning process, enables the manufacture of waterproof boots and shoes.
- When a silicone coating is used on the transfer surface of adhesive tape, the adhesive remains without losing its stickiness. This becomes the first modern silicone release coating and the foundation for a new generation of releasable tapes and labels.
- Dr. Edwin “Dr. Glue” Plueddemann develops the first commercial silicone adhesive. He claims organosilane coupling agents can “stick anything to anything” and soon proves himself right.
- After reading about the unique properties of silicone in leather treatments, researchers at a major cosmetics company wonder if silicones could benefit dry, damaged human skin. The resulting hand lotion is the first personal care product to incorporate silicones.
- Dow Corning Corporation develops a silicone for waterproofing that is destined to become the industry-standard water repellent treatment for paper and textiles.
- Dow Corning's SILASTIC® brand silicone rubber finger joints make their medical debut.
- “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Neil Armstrong leaves the first footprint on the lunar surface. He is wearing a silicone rubber boot. Silicone materials used in the lunar and command modules are critical to the Apollo crew’s safety and support systems.
- The introduction of flexible, thin-film silicone conformal coatings enables the development of smaller, lighter electronic components. This breakthrough paves the way for cellphones, PDAs and ultra-thin laptop computers.
- Silicone sealant technology enables the construction of the world’s first four-sided structural silicone glazing system.
- 3M Corporation introduces POST-IT® Notes. A silicone pressure-sensitive adhesive enables the notes to stick when lightly pressed, then pull off easily without tearing the underlying paper.
- Fifteen newly developed silicone products are put to the test at Le Mans, France’s “Grand Prix of Endurance.” Once again, silicones prove their ability to thrive on tough performance challenges.
- Silicone sealants are used in the restoration of the Statue of Liberty, one of the most treasured monuments of the United States.
- Liquid silicone rubber coatings advance automotive airbag technology and improve airbag performance.
- Silicone technology enables the development of two-in-one conditioning shampoos and other new classes of skin care, hair care, antiperspirant and deodorant products.
- Silicone elastomers are used to recreate the face of a 10,000-year-old woman from one of the oldest archeological finds in North America.
- A blast-resistant window system constructed with a silicone structural adhesive is credited for saving lives in the September 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. Pentagon.
- Silicone coatings enable the development of "intelligent" textiles that absorb and dissipate impact forces. When used in high-performance apparel and equipment, these “smart” textiles help protect motorcyclists and others from impact injury.
- LED screens manufactured with protective silicone technologies help smart phones and touch-screen based devices stay cleaner and more resistant to damage.
- As wearable electronic devices such as smart watches and fitness trackers gain traction in the marketplace, more manufacturers are enhancing these devices with the silky touch, proven safety and excellent aesthetics of Dow Corning TPSiV®—a unique hybrid of thermoplastic urethane (TPU) and crosslinked silicone rubber.
- In construction, the drive toward "green" building is popularizing water-based silicone air barriers, which create a tight, weather-resistant envelope that improve occupant comfort while reducing energy use.
- To ensure long-lasting performance of their solar energy panels in harsh outdoor environments, manufacturers embrace silicone encapsulants for excellent durability and protection against corrosion and delamination.
The future of silicone is now—with silicone technologies helping to advance photonics, nanotechnology, sustainable building materials and alternative energy. The contribution silicone is making to our quality of life and the sustainability of our planet is immense—and will continue to play a role in creating a cleaner, greener and more prosperous world for all.