UO professor writes about the fall and rise of silicone

Silicone brushes

An article on silicone and its array of uses written by Kiersten Muenchinger, department head and Tim and Mary Boyle Chair in Material Studies and Product Design at the University of Oregon, has recently received attention in the media.

The article, originally published by The Conversation, discusses how silicone was once seen as a dangerous product. However, throughout history silicone has come to be used in a variety of applications from the kitchen to outer space, according to the article.

“When cooking, we apply extreme heat and extreme cold, transform matter from liquid to solid, and mix, melt, cut, mash, and stick,” Muenchinger says. “Silicone makes all of this messy kitchen work much easier.”

Muenchinger mentions that silicone was demonized in the 1980s when breast implant patients started experiencing adverse side effects. These side effects were not proven to be caused by the silicone in the implants, the article says. Since then, silicone has begun making its way into households everywhere.

“I often think about how silicone continues to have a range of important applications, whether it’s in outer space, in motor components or in emergency rooms,” she writes.

The article has since been picked up by the San Francisco Chronicle, the Chicago Tribune and more.

To read the full article, see “From breast implants to ice cube trays: How silicone took over our kitchens.”