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Fascinating Silicone™ Chemistry Corner Building Blocks & Nomenclature

Silicone building blocks and nomenclature

From these basic building blocks, thousands of useful silicone products are created.

Silicone molecular model

Chlorosilane PrecursorProduct of HydrolysisSilicone "Shorthand"Forms, Functions
Trimethylchlorosilane formula

Trimethylchlorosilane
Trimethylsilanol formulaM unit molecular modelEnd-blockers

Silicone end blocker formula
Dimethyldichlorosilane formula
Dimethyldichlorosilane
The primary building block used in the polymerization of polydimethylsiloxanes
(classic linear silicones)
Dimethylsilanediol formulaD unit molecular modelLinear (straight chain)

Linear silicone formula

Silicone fluids, elastomers, and gels
Methyltrichlorosilane formula

Methyltrichlorosilane
Methylsilanetriol formulaT unit molecular modelBranched (crosslinkers)

Branched silicone formula
Learn about crosslinking reactions.
Tetrachlorosilane formula

Tetrachlorosilane
Tetrahydroxysilane formulaQ unit molecular modelThree-dimensional resinous networks

Silicone resin formula
Silicone resins

Explore the silicone manufacturing process.

Silicone nomenclature shorthand

The silicon-based materials industry uses a shorthand (abbreviated) nomenclature - "M," "D," "T," and "Q" - to describe complicated siloxane building blocks. The subscript numbers = DP (degree of polymerization).

Examples:

Me3SiOSiMe3hexamethyldisiloxaneMM
Me3SiO(SiMe2O)nSiMe3trimethylsiloxy terminated polydimethylsiloxaneMDnM
(Me3SiO)4Sitetrakis(trimethylsilyloxy)silaneM4Q
(SiMe2O)4octamethyltetracyclosiloxaneD4
Did you know ... the name "silicone" was an accident! Scientists originally believed the material had a structure of >Si=O, which is similar to the structure of ketone (>C=O); hence, the name “silicone.” By the time they realized their mistake, the name had stuck. Learn more about the differences between silicone and organic chemistry.

Expand your understanding

Learn more about:
The silicone molecule
Other members of the silicon materials family

Explore your material options

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