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News & Resources

Optical Silicones for use in Harsh Operating Environments

The optics industry widely uses silicones for various fiber optic cable potting applications and light emitting diode protection. Optics manufacturers know traditional silicone elastomers, gels, thixotropic gels, and fluids not only perform extremely well in high temperature applications, but also offer refractive index matching so that silicones can transmit light with admirable efficiency. However, because environmental conditions may affect a material’s performance over time, one must also consider the conditions the device operates in to ensure long-term reliability. External environments may include exposure to a combination of UV light and temperature, while other environments may expose devices to hydrocarbon based fuels. This paper will delve into the chemistry of silicones and functional groups that lend themselves to properties such as temperature, fuel, and radiation resistance to show why silicone is the material of choice for optic applications under normally harmful forms of exposure. Data will be presented to examine silicone’s performance in these environments.