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Functional Fillers Add Versatility to Silicone Elastomer Systems in Extreme Environments
Keywords: Silicone, electrically conductive, extreme environments
Silicone possesses many inherent properties that make it versatile and unique. For instance, silicone materials can absorb stresses during thermal cycling in large or extremely small form factors. It also resists degradation at continuous operating temperatures up to 250 C. Widely known for this latter ability to maintain elastomeric properties over a wide temperature range, silicones have been used for decades in aerospace and other environments where temperature extremes are common. Adding to their versatility, silicones can accommodate a variety of functional filler types that can modify their properties according to an application's needs. These additives, e.g. silica or resin, can impart new properties such as electrical and thermal conductivity. For example, silicone rubber is known for its insulative properties and low modulus, but with the addition of thermally or electrically conductive fillers the elastomer can be transformed into a viable option for uses which previously did not exist, such as EMI shielding or thermal management. This paper will discuss the chemical and physical properties behind incorporating various fillers into silicones and the results that can be achieved with certain fillers. To highlight filler contribution to silicone capabilities, silicones with and without fillers will be discussed as pertains to applications involving extreme temperatures. Understanding the opportunities and limitations of silicones allows the engineer to choose the best options available for maximum performance in acute environments.
Michelle Velderrain, Senior Technical Specialist
NuSil Technology, Inc.
Carpinteria, CA

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