Dow Corning pioneered the development of organo-silane technology more than 50 years ago to provide new classes of materials – silicones and silanes with special physical and chemical properties. This research led to a new industry based on the synergy of organic and silicon chemistries. Silicones and silanes are now essential components in many major applications; without them, many of the materials we rely on today would not exist.
The value of silane coupling agents was first discovered in the 1940s in conjunction with the development of fiberglass-reinforced polyester composites. When initially fabricated, these new composites were very strong, but their strength declined rapidly during aging.
This weakening was caused by a loss of bond strength between the glass and resin. In seeking a solution, researchers found that organofunctional silanes – silicon chemicals that contain both organic and inorganic reactivity in the same molecule – functioned as coupling agents in the composites. A very small amount of an organofunctional alkoxysilane at the glass-resin interface not only significantly increased initial composite strength; it also resulted in a dramatic retention of that strength over time. Subsequently, other applications for silane coupling agents were discovered, including mineral and filler reinforcement; mineral dispersion; adhesion of paints, inks and coatings; reinforcement and crosslinking of plastics and rubber; reinforcement and adhesion of sealants and adhesives water repellents and surface protection.