Polysilanes—a new look at some old materials


  • Dr. Robert D. Miller

    1. IBM Research Division Almaden Research Center 650 Harry Road, San Jose, California 95120-6099 (USA)
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    • received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Cornell University in 1968 working with Professor A. T. Blomquist. After post-doctoral work at Union Carbide Research Institute on low temperature spectral characterization of reactive intermediates generated by flash vacuum pyrolytic techniques, he joined IBM Research in Yorktown Heights, New York as a member of a multidisciplinary “basic studies” group. In 1971, he moved to the San Jose Research Laboratory. His current research interests include: basic photochemical processes, radiation sensitive polymers, synthetic methods involving multifunctional synthons, spectroscopy and chemistry of reactive intermediates, the synthesis and characterization of highly strained andlor theoretically interesting molecules, and novel rearrangements promoted by structural strain. He is a member of the American Chemical Society and is presently on the editorial board for Chemical Reviews.


In spite of the fact that the first polysilane derivatives were probably prepared in the mid 1920's, there was little scientific interest until recently. The synthesis of the first soluble homo and copolymers about 10 years ago has stimulated an explosive development of this class of materials. This brief review traces the historical development of the polysilanes and focuses on recent studies of polymer structure, electronic properties, photochemical reactions and mechanisms and finally on new applications.