chemistry

Insulating materials

The insulating materials are those that are characterized by being resistant to the passage of electric current. To the extent that many types of elements function as good conductors, there will be others that do not, being functional for other daily and industrial actions.

The chemical foundation of the insulating materials is that their valence band is large, that is to say, that in the last electronic orbit they have a quantity of between five and seven electrons, which prevents them from being transferred. This assignment is what underlies the ability to conduct electricity, so its absence makes it an insulating element.

The insulating condition of a material does not prevent it from passing any electricity, but the passing electrons do so with a force 2.5 * 1024 times less than in the case of good electrical conductors, such as silver or copper. It must be said, on the other hand, that there are some materials that are insulating but only under certain conditions. This happens, for example, with air that is insulating at room temperature but under other signal frequency conditions, it may eventually become a conductive material. Water, usually taken as a conductor, sometimes becomes an insulator.

It is common for insulating materials to be used to avoid the contact of two conductive parts with each other, or to protect people against electrical stresses: child protectors that are generally placed on plugs are highlighted here, taking care of the risk from exposure of fingers to current.

Insulating materials can belong to two large groups, which are inorganic and organic. Among the former are all those that formerly served as fundamentals at the beginning of electrotechnology: marble is an example, almost not applied today. Ceramic insulators, however, are a very large group of substances that have different functionality for each case. Insulators that do not belong to the inorganic category are organic, which may be natural or artificial, limiting this group to synthetic plastics, one of the most frequently used insulators.

 

It can serve you: Examples of Conductive Materials

Examples of Insulating Materials

The following list will include various insulating substances, accompanied, in some cases, by the functionality they have in accordance with the two purposes seen:

  • Wood:  Conductive for having salts and humidity. Frequently used in different structures and posts.
  • Silicate: Insulating material, mainly present in insulators. It can come as aluminum silicate (in hard porcelain) or as magnesium silicate (in soapstone or forsterite). In the first case, it is good to support for heating conductors.
  • Expanded clay : It is obtained from natural clay, and is used as an aggregate in mortars and concretes, improving the insulating capacity in different construction sectors.
  • Oxide ceramics: Functional for spark plug insulation, or to be used at high temperatures.
  • Glass: short and medium tension insulator, which does not absorb moisture but is prone to knocks and breaks.
  • Cork: Lightweight material with low weight and density, which allows placing several layers improving the efficiency of the cork. It is also very waterproof insulation.
  • Rubber: The flexibility of the rubber gives it great functionality, as it tends to withstand a large number of deformations without breaking, reaching the original shape again. Foam rubber is also an insulating material, which in turn works as a sound insulator.
  • Ceramic: Good insulator with low moisture absorption and high impact resistance. It is frequently used in the electrotechnical industry.
  • Aluminum oxide: Used for fireproof insulating parts, and for spark plug insulation.
  • Plastic: One of the best insulators, since the tight bonding of its particles makes it almost impossible for electrons to be released.

More information?

  • What are the Insulators?
  • Differences Between Insulators and Conductors
  • Examples of Superconducting Materials

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