Silicon tetrahydride (SiH4) – most commonly known as silane, monosilane, silicilane – is an active gas primarily used for deposing silicon base layers. This process is performed through pyrolysis in the glass industry: oxygen-free thermal decomposition of organic materials. It is also used to produce amorphous silcon for photocopiers or solar cells.
Silane effects on health
At ambient temperature, silane (SiH4) is a colorless gas with a specific smell. As it is heavier than air, it can replace oxygen in poorly ventilated areas and create asphyxiating enviroments. The major silane hazard remains its explosiveness. Indeed, as it is extremely flammable, it can spontaneously ignite when in contract with the air. If heated, it produces hydrogenated silicon, which increase the risk of explosion.
Silane can be swallowed by inhalation. If released, this gas can swiftly reach hazardous concentration levels in the air. If inhaled, silane causes headaches, nausea, coughing and sore throat. The liquid’s fast evaporation can cause frostbite.