Optical Liquid Silicone Rubber (LSR)

Gentle will be defined as electromagnetic radiation which has completely different frequencies and wavelength. The spectrum that can be picked up by the retina of a human eye is known as seen light [1]. Supplies via which light can refracted, reflected, transmitted, dispersed, polarized, detected and reworked are referred to as optical supplies [2].

Optical Supplies

The variety of optical materials has expanded not too long ago. Up to now, glass and different ceramic materials have been the few supplies available that provided the best refractive index values. If we look at glass specifically, the chemical structure of glass is formed by Silicon (Si) and Oxygen (O) with low-range arrangement [3]. The atoms in glass are organized randomly, and due to this construction, glass is transparent (Fig.1) [2]. Conversely, metals have an organized construction and due to this fact are not clear. In glass, photons (the elementary particles that form the light) are able to move by way of glass without interacting with any atom [2]. Because of this construction, it has low mechanical properties and excessive density (between 2.3 and 6.3 g/cm3) [1], which may be thought-about a drawback.

Fig. 1 Chemical construction of glass

Optically Clear Polymers

Some polymers have innate properties just like glass, however they have low physical properties. Examples of a few of these polymers include the thermoplastic supplies Polycarbonate (Computer), and Polymethyl Methacrylate (PMMA) which are processed using injection molding; and Epoxy resins (EPI), thermoset supplies which might be compression molded [4]. These thermoplastic and thermoset supplies have advantages, together with top quality surfaces reflecting the mold surface, they are easily processed, they usually can be found in quite a lot of grades with a wide range of properties. There are disadvantages as properly, together with thermal stability − their thermal properties are low compared to glass [3].

Optical Liquid Silicone Rubber (LSR)

Optically clear grades of LSR polymers provide advantages over both glass and thermoplastic and thermoset optical polymers. Optical silicone rubber has been round awhile, with the primary optically clear silicone rubber developed within the 1950s [5]. The chemical constructions of liquid silicone gadget rubber and glass have elements in widespread. Like glass, LSR is also formed by Si and O (Fig. 2), however the additional radicals in its structure is what makes silicone rubbers opaque or translucent by nature. Although common in some regards, the mechanical and bodily properties of Liquid Silicone Rubber are superior silicone mold to glass and carbon-primarily based polymers [6]. In relation to hardness, LSRs might be as versatile as 5 Shore A, or as exhausting as glass (approximately ninety Shore A). Its density is also a plus, it ranges between 1.1 and 2.Three g/cm3, considerably lower than glass [7].

Thermal Performance

Most functions specifying optical materials will likely be in high temperature environments. Due to LSR’s good thermal stability, optically clear Liquid Silicone Rubber performs nicely and maintains its transparency with out lowering over time [7]. Thermoset epoxy resins for example do not perform effectively, their readability decreases and will turn black when subjected to 200°C for 200 hours. LSRs offer advantages over polycarbonates as nicely, the optical LSR material will maintain homogeneous light distribution over a range of wavelengths, whereas when polycarbonate is used at particular wavelengths, it will turn yellow [3].

Fig. 2 Chemical structure of silicone rubber [3]

Chemical Structure and Additives

Optical Liquid Silicone Rubber, without any additives and with totally different molecular weights, have been shown in material literature to contain Phenyl, Methyl and Trifluoropropyl teams in its chemical construction [8]. So how does one-part optical silicone rubber differ from other liquid silicone rubbers? Throughout the synthesis, the polymer repeat unit is modified and creates a brief-range structure much like glass. The drawback of this modification is its readability will lower attributable to thermal aging, just like the carbon-based polymers. Table 1 presents the refractive index of those optical silicone rubbers compared with glass [3].

Table 1. Refractive indexes of different silicone rubbers as compared with glass [3]

Though one-half optical silicone rubber can be used, optical silicones with two-half addition curing are more generally used and preferred. In two-half LSRs, the vulcanization is activated utilizing a platinum catalyst [9]. Also, special silicone rubbers catalyzed using 2,5-dimethyl-2, 5-di(t-butylperoxy) hexane is considered optimum due its absence of by-products [4]. To improve the clarity of silicone rubber, it is necessary to switch its chemical structure, typically utilizing additives. The principle objective of the additives is to change the refractive index until it is identical or very just like glass’s refractive index. The most commonly used additive is the silicon dioxide (silica) which has a rod-shape morphology and a median particle size of approximately 15 nm. Aside from the primary goal being to enhance the mechanical properties, this additive may also enhance the optical properties as properly [10]. The addition of extra-fantastic silica or wet-process hydrophobic silica affects the morphology so it retains its clarity even at excessive temperatures, and likewise improves processing.

Optical Readability Measurement

The readability of a fabric may be evaluated using different properties: share of gentle transmission, refractive index, proportion of haze (a measure of the diffused and transmitted light), Abbe number (measurement of the material’s light dispersion), and yellowness index, (calculated based on color modifications in the fabric brought on by pure or artificial radiation). In assessing the optical quality of Liquid Silicone Rubber (LSR) vs. glass primarily based on these metrics, optical LSRs are superior in all except haze and yellowness index, where glass has higher values. Overall, the optical properties of a modified optical LSR, are usually higher than Pc and PMMA polymers, and glass as effectively [3].


Optical Liquid Silicone Rubbers are increasingly changing glass in lighting applications, notably in bulbs. Glass utilized in these kind of applications, with high power consumption the excessive temperature on the glass floor is the primary trigger for the short life of the product [11]. In 1962, mild-emitting diode (LED) had been launched. The LED is a two-lead semiconductor light source that is activated when a voltage is applied that releases power within the type of photons (light). The use of optical LSRs in these functions presents increased product life, because of the material’s thermal stability even in high temperature even over an extended time frame [1]. Determine 3 reveals the comparability between the glass bulb and the LED lightning system with a Liquid Silicone Rubber enclosure.

Determine 3. Glass gentle bulb and optical silicone rubber LED bulb [3]

Other products where silicone rubber can be used embody white reflectors and diffusers used in lightning, electronic or automotive applications. As a refractive or TIR (Whole Internal Reflection) lens, with the appropriated design, the light loss throughout reflection is eradicated completely. Optical LSRs are additionally used successfully in imagery and scanning purposes, in bar-code scanners, spectrometers and particle counters [3]. In medical purposes, optical Liquid Silicone Rubber might be present in tubing, endoscopy elements, catheters and lenses. In new, rising telecommunications fields, optical LSRs are utilized in microlens arrays, and diffractive optical components; in electrical applications they are often found in solar collection products and as fibers in photonics [8]. For photonics purposes, ultraviolet (UV) light is used to cure the silicone rubber; the publicity of the material to an applicable wavelength permits the era of waveguide’s patterns that can be utilized efficiently in lithography.

In addition to functions for optical silicone rubber with seen spectrums of gentle, there are also functions in other ranges of mild. For instance, applications with UV-seen / Close to Infrared range used for information transmission [11]. Depending on the chemical composition of the grade and additives used, LSR wavelengths can range between 850 nm and 1300-1600 nm.

Processing Liquid Silicone Rubber

The processing of optical Liquid Silicone Rubber is also vital for attaining desirable properties in the final product. Similar to optical carbon-based mostly polymers, silicone rubbers may be injection molded, compression molded or solid [6]. LSR’s quick processing time, no materials waste due to the elimination of sprues and runners, and its initial low viscosity, permits for the manufacturing of tight tolerance advanced products. In addition, put on on the machine, and mold components happens at a really sluggish fee, and really low birefringence is generated which might be a problem for some optical applications. Throughout the cooling course of (after processing), internal stresses are not created when processing LSR, even in thick partitions, providing increased mechanical and dimensional stability in the long run products [13]. From the rheological viewpoint, optical Liquid Silicone Rubber’s inherent viscosity is independent of the shear fee, and is decrease in contrast to straightforward LSR, positively affecting the processing, for example the circulation might be controlled and predicted easily. Determine 4 exhibits the comparability in habits between standard LSR and optical Liquid Silicone Rubber.

Determine 4. Comparability of habits between customary and optical silicone rubber [14]

Although LSRs have many processing benefits, there are also some concerns to take into consideration when processing. The primary consideration involves the composition of the fabric, because most optical LSRs are comprised of two-parts, mixing is required. It’s important that the material is homogenous and mixed well earlier than processing [14]. Additionally variables resembling shrinkage, part geometry, and the surface end of the mold can negatively affect the optical properties and needs to be addressed. Due to its low viscosity, there is a tendency for flash to be generated in the product, for that motive, further design issues are essential to avoid or minimize flashing.

LSR injection molders, for instance SIMTEC Silicone Components, who’re regarded as consultants in Liquid Silicone Rubber expertise, make the most of their data, experience, and superior manufacturing to optimize the manufacturing of high quality LSR, Two-Shot, and Multi-Shot LSR components.


1. https://www.merriam-webster.com.

2. https://www.researchgate.web/publication/279946258_Optical_Materials

3. http://ww.dow-corning.com

4. M. Altman, J.D. Lytle. Optical design strategies for polymer optics. S.P.I.E. Proceeding, Vol. 237, 380-385, 1980.

5. G. Gu, Q.L. Zhou. Preparation of excessive power and optically transparent silicone rubber. European Polymer Journal, Vol 34, No. 11, 1727-1733, 1998

6. http://www.wacker.com

7. http://omnexus.specialchem.com/centers/liquid-silicone-rubber

8. http://www.momentive.com

9. https://www.wacker.com

10. Jones, W. Ando, J. Chojnowski. Silicon-containing polymers, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrech, 2000

11. http://www.quantumsilicones.com

12. http://www.nusil.com

13. E. Mark. Some fascinating issues about Polysiloxanes. Accounts of Chemical Research, Vol.

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