New materials from sand plus antifreeze.So many plastics and other petroleum-based products pervade per·vade
tr.v. per·vad·ed, per·vad·ing, per·vades
To be present throughout; permeate. See Synonyms at charge.
[Latin perv our civilization that one might think of this as the age of carbon. But if a Michigan materials scientist has his way, silicon may one day challenge carbon as a ubiquitous building block for new materials.
Richard M. Laine has developed a simple technique that uses sand to create a reactive form of silicon. When sand is heated with an alkaline substance and ethylene glycol ethylene glycol: see glycol.
Simplest member of the glycol family, also called 1,2-ethanediol (HOCH2CH2OH). It is a colourless, oily liquid with a mild odour and sweet taste. -- the main ingredient in antifreeze antifreeze, substance added to a solvent to lower its freezing point. The solution formed is called an antifreeze mixture. Antifreeze is typically added to water in the cooling system of an internal-combustion engine so that it may be cooled below the freezing point -- it transforms into a reactive silicon with five chemical bonds, report Laine and his colleagues at the University of Michigan (body, education) University of Michigan - A large cosmopolitan university in the Midwest USA. Over 50000 students are enrolled at the University of Michigan's three campuses. The students come from 50 states and over 100 foreign countries. in Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, city (1990 pop. 109,592), seat of Washtenaw co., S Mich., on the Huron River; inc. 1851. It is a research and educational center, with a large number of government and industrial research and development firms, many in high-technology fields such as in the Oct. 17 NATURE.
The researchers have inserted ions into this silicon starting material to make a clear polymer film that can conduct electricity and may prove useful in batteries or self-defrosting windshields, Laine says. They have also made liquid-crystalline polymers, high-temperature silicon glasses and a silicon-based fire retardant fire retardant Public health A chemical used to resist combustion, which may contain polybrominated biphenyls and antimony oxide .
"We can make compounds in pound quantities," Laine says. "I think this is a very simple way to make a lot of things."
Substances that take many steps to make when carbon serves as their starting material will be easier and perhaps cheaper to produce with this new silicon chemistry he predicts. Because sand and its constituents represent up to one-quarter of the world's minerals, Laine suggests that less developed nations may be able to produce silicon compounds more readily than they can petroleum-based ones.