Silicone rubber and other rubber-like materials have a wide variety of uses, but in almost every case they must be reinforced with particles to make them stronger or less permeable to gases or liquids. University of Cincinnati (UC) chemistry professor James Mark and colleagues have devised a technique that strengthens silicone rubber with nanoscale particles, but leaves the material crystal clear.
Silicone rubber is often reinforced by tiny particles of silica (the primary component of sand and the mineral quartz). However, those silica particles can cloud the silicone rubber, which is a problem for protective masks, contact lenses and medical tubing that rely on silicone rubbers transparency.
Mark, along with graduate student Guru Rajan, UC professor Dale Schaefer, UC associate professor Gregory Beaucage and Yeungnam University (Korea) professor Gil Sur reported on their new technique in the August 15 issue of the Journal of Polymer Science Part B: Polymer Physics.
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