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Silicon Chemistry Tutorial

Silicon Monomers (Silanes)

Silanes are the basic building blocks of silicon chemistry. A silane is a monomeric silicon chemical with a chemical formula in which R1, R2, R3 and R4 represent the four substituents, or groups, attached to the silicon atom.

The silane monomer:

These groups can be the same or different. They can be nonreactive or reactive, with the reactivity being inorganic or organic. The large number of possible combinations partly explains silicon’s versatility and its ability to be used in a variety of ways with carbon-based chemicals.

Silicon is the major constituent of sand and rocks – very durable inorganic materials. Silicon will bond tenaciously to other inorganics such as glass and steel. But when a reactive organic group, such as chloropropyl, is attached to silicon, the organic reactivity is similar to organic analogs in carbon chemistry, and it will bond tenaciously to organic polymers. Organic reactivity can be built into the silane monomer to match the reactivity of many technologies used in the woven and nonwoven industries.

Special characteristics can be added to the silicon molecule by adding nonreactive groups, such as methyl, the higher alkyls, phenyl and trifluoropropyl.

Characteristics of nonreactive silanes.


MethylHydrophobicity and Low surface tension
Higher AlkylOrganic-compatibility and Paintability
PhenylThermal stability, Organic-compatibility and Hydrophobicity
CF3CH2CH2Solvent resistance


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