Silicones (singular: the silicone) is a name for a group of synthetic polymers in which silicon atoms are linked via oxygen atoms to form molecular chains and/or in a network. The remaining free valence electrons of the silicon are saturated with hydrocarbon residues (usually methyl groups). The term was introduced at the beginning of the 20th century by the English chemist Frederick Stanley Kipping (1863-1949). In the scientific literature, the terms poly(organo)siloxanes, or siloxanes for short, are often used instead of silicones. The latter consists of the syllables "sil" for silicon, "ox" for oxygen and "an" for the saturated structure of the compound.

Due to their typically inorganic structure on the one hand and their organic residues on the other hand, silicones occupy an intermediate position between inorganic and organic compounds, in particular between silicates and organic polymers. They are similar in structure to organically modified quartz, have a similar durability, but have the flexibility of plastics. Since silicones are hybrids in a way, they have a unique range of properties that no other plastic can match.

Silicones are usually rubbery and particularly heat-resistant. For example, they are used in sealants, adhesives and lubricants. Silicones are also used in various forms in the medical sector, in cooking utensils and in thermal and electrical insulation. Such forms include, for example, silicone oil, silicone grease, silicone rubber and silicone resin.

Silicone is not to be confused with the silicone component silicon. The similar spelling in English often leads to incorrect translations. Similarly, Silicon Valley in California has nothing to do with silicon, but refers to the silicon used in the manufacture of electronic computer components.

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