Colloidal silica
Colloidal silicas are suspensions of fine amorphous, nonporous, and typically spherical silica particles in a liquid phase.


Usually they are suspended in an aqueous phase that is stabilized electrostatically. Colloidal silicas exhibit particle densities in the range of 2.1 to 2.3 g/cm3.

Most colloidal silicas are prepared as monodisperse
A collection of objects are called monodisperse, or monosized, if they have the same size and shape when discussing particles, and the same mass when discussing polymers...

 suspensions with particle sizes ranging from approximately 30 to 100 nm in diameter. Polydisperse suspensions can also be synthesized and have roughly the same limits in particle size. Smaller particles are difficult to stabilize while particles much greater than 150 nanometers are subject to sedimentation.


Colloidal silicas are most often prepared in a multi-step process where an alkali-silicate solution is partially neutralized, leading to the formation of silica nuclei
Nucleation is the extremely localized budding of a distinct thermodynamic phase. Some examples of phases that may form by way of nucleation in liquids are gaseous bubbles, crystals or glassy regions. Creation of liquid droplets in saturated vapor is also characterized by nucleation...

. The subunits of colloidal silica particles are typically in the range of 1 to 5 nm. Whether or not these subunits are joined together depends on the conditions of polymerization. Initial acidification of a water-glass (sodium silicate
Sodium silicate
Sodium silicate is the common name for a compound sodium metasilicate, Na2SiO3, also known as water glass or liquid glass. It is available in aqueous solution and in solid form and is used in cements, passive fire protection, refractories, textile and lumber processing, and automobiles...

) solution yields Si(OH)4.

If the pH is reduced below 7 or if salt is added, then the units tend to fuse together in chains. These products are often called silica gel
Silica gel
Silica gel is a granular, vitreous, porous form of silica made synthetically from sodium silicate. Despite its name, silica gel is a solid. It is a naturally occurring mineral that is purified and processed into either granular or beaded form...

s. If the pH is kept slightly on the alkaline side of neutral, then the subunits stay separated, and they gradually grow. These products are often called precipitated silica
Precipitated silica
-Production:The production of precipitated silica starts with the reaction of an alkaline silicate solution with a mineral acid. Sulfuric acid and sodium silicate solutions are added simultaneously with agitation to water. Precipitation is carried out under alkaline conditions...

 or silica sols. Hydrogen ion
Hydrogen ion
Hydrogen ion is recommended by IUPAC as a general term for all ions of hydrogen and its isotopes.Depending on the charge of the ion, two different classes can be distinguished: positively charged ions and negatively charged ions....

s from the surface of colloidal silica tend to dissociate in aqueous solution, yielding a high negative charge. Substitution of some of the Si atoms by Al is known increase the negative colloidal charge, especially when it is evaluated at pH below the neutral point. Because of the very small size, the surface area of colloidal silica is very high.

The colloidal suspension is stabilized by pH adjustment and then concentrated, usually by evaporation. The maximum concentration obtainable depends on the on particle size. For example, 50 nm particles can be concentrated to greater than 50 wt% solids while 10 nm particles can only be concentrated to approximately 30 wt% solids before the suspension becomes too unstable.


  • In papermaking
    Papermaking is the process of making paper, a substance which is used universally today for writing and packaging.In papermaking a dilute suspension of fibres in water is drained through a screen, so that a mat of randomly interwoven fibres is laid down. Water is removed from this mat of fibres by...

     colloidal silica is used as a drainage aid. It increases the amount of cationic starch
    Starch or amylum is a carbohydrate consisting of a large number of glucose units joined together by glycosidic bonds. This polysaccharide is produced by all green plants as an energy store...

     that can be retained in the paper. Cationic starch is added as sizing
    Sizing or size is any one of numerous specific substances that is applied to or incorporated in other material, especially papers and textiles, to act as a protecting filler or glaze....

     agent to increase the dry strength of the paper.
  • High temperature binders
  • Investment casting
    Investment casting
    Investment casting is an industrial process based on and also called lost-wax casting, one of the oldest known metal-forming techniques. From 5,000 years ago, when beeswax formed the pattern, to today’s high-technology waxes, refractory materials and specialist alloys, the castings allow the...

     - used in moulds
  • An abrasive
    An abrasive is a material, often a mineral, that is used to shape or finish a workpiece through rubbing which leads to part of the workpiece being worn away...

     - for polishing silicon wafers
  • Carbonless paper
  • Catalysts
  • Moisture Absorbent
  • It increases the bulk & taped density of powder & granules also
  • It is also be used in Lubrication of Tablet
  • Stabilizing and rigidizing refractory ceramic fiber (fiberfrax) blankets
  • Abrasion
    Abrasion (mechanical)
    Abrasion is the process of scuffing, scratching, wearing down, marring, or rubbing away. It can be intentionally imposed in a controlled process using an abrasive...

    -resistant coatings
  • Increasing friction
    Friction is the force resisting the relative motion of solid surfaces, fluid layers, and/or material elements sliding against each other. There are several types of friction:...

     - used to coat waxed floors, textile fibers
    A textile or cloth is a flexible woven material consisting of a network of natural or artificial fibres often referred to as thread or yarn. Yarn is produced by spinning raw fibres of wool, flax, cotton, or other material to produce long strands...

     and railway tracks to promote traction
  • Antisoiling – fills micropores to prevent take up of dirt and other particles into textiles
  • Surfactant
    Surfactants are compounds that lower the surface tension of a liquid, the interfacial tension between two liquids, or that between a liquid and a solid...

     – used for flocculating, coagulating, dispersing, stabilizing
    Stabilizer (chemistry)
    In chemistry a stabilizer is a chemical which tends to inhibit the reaction between two or more other chemicals. It can be thought of as the antonym to a catalyst...

    • Liquid silicon dioxide (colloidal silica) is used as a wine and juice fining agent.
  • Absorbent
  • Colloidal silica is used in concrete densifiers and polished concrete
    Polished concrete
    Polished concrete is concrete that has been treated with a chemical densifier and ground with progressively finer grinding tools. The grinding tools are usually progressive grits of diamond grinding cup wheels and diamond polishing pads. Typically, concrete is not considered polished before 400...

  • In manufacturing Quantum dot
    Quantum dot
    A quantum dot is a portion of matter whose excitons are confined in all three spatial dimensions. Consequently, such materials have electronic properties intermediate between those of bulk semiconductors and those of discrete molecules. They were discovered at the beginning of the 1980s by Alexei...

    s, small semi-conductors used in various scientific research settings.
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