The basic building block of silicon
chemistry, silanes are monomeric silicon compounds with four substituent
groups attached to the silicon atom. These substituent groups can be
nearly any combination of nonreactive, inorganically reactive, or organically
Inorganic reactivity represents the covalent bonds formed
through oxygen to the silicon atom to form a siloxane type of bond.
Organic reactivity occurs on the organic portion of the molecule and
does not directly involve the silicon atom.
This large number of possible combinations explains silicon’s versatility
and its ability to be used in a variety of ways with carbon-based
Silicon is a major constituent of sand and rocks – very durable inorganic
materials. Silicon will bond tenaciously to other inorganics such as glass and
steel. Silicon will bond tenaciously to organic polymers as well when an
organic group, such as aminopropyl, is attached to the silicon. This is
because the reactivity of organic groups attached to silicon is similar to
organic analogs in carbon chemistry.
Special characteristics can be added to the silicon molecule by adding
non-reactive groups, such as methyl, the higher alkyls, phenyl and
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