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Light may be defined as electromagnetic radiation which has completely different frequencies and wavelength. The spectrum that may be picked up by the retina of a human eye is named seen light [1]. Materials through which gentle can refracted, reflected, transmitted, dispersed, polarized, detected and transformed are referred to as optical supplies [2].

Optical Supplies

The number of optical supplies has expanded recently. Prior to now, glass and other ceramic supplies were the few supplies accessible that provided one of the best refractive index values. If we have a look at glass specifically, the chemical construction of glass is formed by Silicon (Si) and Oxygen (O) with low-vary association [3]. The atoms in glass are organized randomly, and because of this construction, glass is transparent (Fig.1) [2]. Conversely, metals have an organized construction and therefore will not be transparent. In glass, photons (the elementary particles that kind the sunshine) are in a position to move by means of glass without interacting with any atom [2]. Due to this structure, it has low mechanical properties and excessive density (between 2.3 and 6.3 g/cm3) [1], which will be considered an obstacle.

Fig. 1 Chemical construction of glass

Optically Clear Polymers

Some polymers have innate properties just like glass, however they’ve low physical properties. Examples of a few of these polymers embody the thermoplastic supplies Polycarbonate (Pc), and Polymethyl Methacrylate (PMMA) which might be processed utilizing injection molding; and Epoxy resins (EPI), thermoset materials which might be compression molded [4]. These thermoplastic and thermoset materials have advantages, including prime quality surfaces reflecting the mold floor, they’re simply processed, and they 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 offer benefits over each glass and thermoplastic and thermoset optical polymers. Optical silicone rubber has been around awhile, with the primary optically clear silicone rubber developed in the 1950s [5]. The chemical structures of liquid silicone rubber and glass have parts in widespread. Like glass, LSR can be formed by Si and O (Fig. 2), however the additional radicals in its structure is what makes silicone rubbers opaque or translucent by nature. Though frequent in some regards, the mechanical and bodily properties of Liquid Silicone Rubber are superior to glass and carbon-based mostly polymers [6]. In relation to hardness, LSRs can be as versatile as 5 Shore A, or as laborious as glass (approximately ninety Shore A). Its density can also be a plus, it ranges between 1.1 and 2.3 g/cm3, significantly decrease than glass [7].

Thermal Efficiency

Most purposes specifying optical materials will probably be in excessive temperature environments. Because of LSR’s good thermal stability, optically clear Liquid Silicone Rubber performs effectively and maintains its transparency without lowering over time [7]. Thermoset epoxy resins for example don’t perform effectively, their clarity decreases and will flip black when subjected to 200°C for 200 hours. LSRs offer benefits over polycarbonates as well, the optical LSR material will maintain homogeneous mild distribution over a spread of wavelengths, whereas when polycarbonate is used at particular wavelengths, it is going to flip yellow [3].

Fig. 2 Chemical construction of silicone rubber [3]

Chemical Construction and Additives

Optical Liquid Silicone Rubber, with none additives and with totally different molecular weights, have been proven in material literature to contain Phenyl, Methyl and Trifluoropropyl groups in its chemical construction [8]. So how does one-half optical silicone rubber differ from different liquid silicone rubbers? In the course of the synthesis, the polymer repeat unit is modified and creates a brief-vary construction similar to glass. The disadvantage of this modification is its clarity will decrease on account of thermal aging, just like the carbon-primarily based polymers. Table 1 presents the refractive index of these optical silicone rubbers in comparison with glass [3].

Table 1. Refractive indexes of various silicone rubbers in comparison with glass [3]

Though one-part optical silicone rubber [liveinternet.ru] can be utilized, optical silicones with two-part addition curing are more generally used and most popular. In two-half LSRs, the vulcanization is activated using a platinum catalyst [9]. Also, special silicone rubbers catalyzed using 2,5-dimethyl-2, 5-di(t-butylperoxy) hexane is taken into account optimum due its absence of by-merchandise [4]. To enhance the readability of silicone rubber, it is necessary to modify its chemical construction, usually utilizing additives. The main objective of the additives is to alter the refractive index till it is the same or very much like glass’s refractive index. The most commonly used additive is the silicon dioxide (silica) which has a rod-form morphology and a median particle dimension of roughly 15 nm. Apart from the primary objective being to enhance the mechanical properties, this additive can even improve the optical properties as well [10]. The addition of additional-superb silica or wet-course of hydrophobic silica impacts the morphology so it retains its readability even at excessive temperatures, and in addition improves processing.

Optical Readability Measurement

The readability of a material could be evaluated using completely different properties: proportion of gentle transmission, refractive index, share of haze (a measure of the diffused and transmitted light), Abbe quantity (measurement of the material’s gentle dispersion), and yellowness index, (calculated based on colour modifications in the material brought on by natural or synthetic radiation). In assessing the optical high quality of Liquid Silicone Rubber (LSR) vs. glass based mostly on these metrics, optical LSRs are superior in all except haze and yellowness index, the place glass has better values. Overall, the optical properties of a modified optical LSR, are usually higher than Computer and PMMA polymers, and glass as properly [3].


Optical Liquid Silicone Rubbers are more and more changing glass in lighting functions, significantly in bulbs. Glass used in all these applications, with excessive power consumption the high temperature on the glass floor is the first trigger for the brief life of the product [11]. In 1962, mild-emitting diode (LED) have been introduced. The LED is a two-lead semiconductor light supply that’s activated when a voltage is utilized that releases power within the type of photons (mild). The usage of optical LSRs in these purposes provides elevated product life, because of the material’s thermal stability even in high temperature even over an prolonged time frame [1]. Determine three exhibits the comparison between the glass bulb and the LED lightning system with a Liquid Silicone Rubber enclosure.

Figure 3. Glass light bulb and optical silicone rubber LED bulb [3]

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

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

Processing Liquid Silicone Rubber

The processing of optical Liquid Silicone Rubber can be critical for attaining fascinating properties in the ultimate product. Just like optical carbon-primarily based polymers, silicone rubbers will be injection molded, compression molded or solid [6]. LSR’s short processing time, no materials waste as a result of elimination of sprues and runners, and its initial low viscosity, allows for the manufacturing of tight tolerance advanced products. As well as, wear on the machine, and mold components happens at a really sluggish charge, and really low birefringence is generated which may be a problem for some optical functions. During the cooling course of (after processing), inner stresses will not be created when processing LSR, even in thick walls, offering elevated mechanical and dimensional stability in the end merchandise [13]. From the rheological standpoint, optical Liquid Silicone Rubber’s inherent viscosity is unbiased of the shear charge, and is lower compared to standard LSR, positively affecting the processing, for instance the flow will be controlled and predicted simply. Determine four shows the comparability in habits between commonplace LSR and optical Liquid Silicone Rubber.

Figure 4. Comparison of conduct between normal and optical silicone rubber [14]

Though LSRs have many processing advantages, there are also some considerations to take into account when processing. The primary consideration includes the composition of the material, as a result of most optical LSRs are comprised of two-parts, mixing is required. It is important that the fabric is homogenous and mixed properly earlier than processing [14]. Additionally variables such as shrinkage, half geometry, and the surface finish of the mold can negatively have an effect on the optical properties and should be addressed. As a result of its low viscosity, there is a tendency for flash to be generated within the product, for that motive, additional design issues are essential to keep away from or minimize flashing.

LSR injection molders, for example SIMTEC Silicone Parts, who are thought to be specialists in Liquid Silicone Rubber expertise, make the most of their knowledge, expertise, and advanced manufacturing to optimize the production of top quality LSR, Two-Shot, and Multi-Shot LSR components.


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