production of silicone film

First commercially available silicone film for electroactive polymers (EAP)

  • Patent pending production process
  • Film thicknesses down to 20 microns
  • Special properties enable applications from functional membranes to parts based on EAP

Munich-based chemical group Wacker has introduced the first commercially available silicone film at the Energy Harvesting & Storage USA conference and tradeshow. Elastosil Film is made entirely from silicone elastomers and available in thicknesses down to 20 microns. New possible applications range from functional membranes to parts based on electroactive polymers such as sensors, actuators, and generators.

Patent pending production process

Wacker’s patent pending production process provides a very uniform thickness distribution (+/- 5 percent) across the entire width and length of the film. This fact, together with the material’s typical silicone characteristics, enables technical applications that were previously very hard or even impossible to implement on an industrial scale. Elastosil Film is manufactured under cleanroom conditions without the use of solvents.

Special application: electroactive polymer (EAP)

The film is suitable as a gas-permeable packaging and protective film or as a membrane for separating or enriching gases. In this regard, the film exhibits a property typical of silicone elastomers: the film is permeable to water vapor and certain gases such as oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide, but not to water.

Silicone elastomers are electrically insulating, have good dielectric properties, and endure long-term mechanical loads with hardly any signs of fatigue. Therefore, the film can also be used as an electroactive polymer (EAP). EAPs are able to alter their shape or size when electrical voltage is applied. Thus, they are able to replicate linear and natural forms of movement. Based on this principle of an artificial muscle, silicon films can be used to design new kinds of sensors, actuators, and generators. Possible applications range from consumer electronics, electrical relays, valves and pumps to artificial limbs.

Will silicone film contribute to convert maritime wave power into electricity?

In the future, silicone films may also play an important role in the conversion of maritime wave power into electricity. As part of a project sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), a consortium of industrial and R&D partners led by Robert Bosch GmbH is developing the basic principles underlying future wave farms. In this regard, Wacker is responsible for developing silicone films and the related production process.

Picture: Precision silicone film from Wacker is thinner than human hair. The film is manufactured under cleanroom conditions and has very good dielectric properties. Potential applications include functional membranes and innovative technologies based on electroactive polymers (EAPs). (Photo: Wacker Chemie AG)


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