Mica is a group of minerals which are physically and chemically similar. These are sheet silicate minerals which have a nearly perfect basal cleavage and monoclinic crystal system. The mica group includes 37 phyllosilicate minerals. Mica splits into definite crystallographic structural planes. It is the most prominent characteristic of mica which is explained by the hexagonal sheet-like arrangement of its atoms.
Mica is a very important mineral which has been used in various fields of our life since prehistoric times. Mica was known to ancient Indian, Egyptian, Roman and Greek civilizations. We can find proof of its uses since ancient times as cave paintings, in pyramids, vessels, summer clothes, pottery, gulal and abir (colored powders) etc. Mica mineral was used in the construction of Padmanabhpuram Palace which is a masterpiece of indigenous Kerala architecture. The 3rd largest pyramid of the world – Pyramid of the Sun, contains a good amount of mica in layers approximately up to 30cm thick. It is used in Ayurveda as well. Thus, we have been using mica in our everyday life since ages.
Uses of Mica Mineral
The world’s largest mica deposits are found in India in igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary regimes of Bihar and Nellore district of Madras. Mainly commercially important micas are muscovite and phlogopite. Unique properties of mica are very useful in various fields. Main applications of mica are listed below –
Uses of Mica in Everyday Life – Today, mica is used in almost everything from construction of buildings to makeup. 37 phyllosilicate minerals of mica group possess platy texture and are used in fields. It is used as a pigment extender. Mica disc is used in breathing apparatus, communication devices, lens, broadband waveplates etc. Mica is used in microwave ovens as well. Not only this eye liner or lip gloss which mostly women use on a daily basis contains mica.
Uses of Mica Powder – We are using mica powder for various purposes specially for decorations since ages. Mica powder is used in clay pots, traditional Pueblo pottery, colored powders, Kirazuri printing techniques or wood block printmaking. It is also used in the decoration of windows of the buildings and to brighten the colored pigments. It is widely used in cosmetics.
Uses of Mica Sheets – Mica sheets are mainly used as window sheets. Small pieces of mica sheets are used in toys as well. Sheet mica is used in electronics, microscopy, diaphragms for oxygen breathing equipment, navigation compasses, thermal regulators, optical fibers, pyrometers (A type of thermometer which is used to measure the temperature of distant objects), stove or kerosene heater windows, mica thermic heaters etc. As mica shows a refractive index that depends on the polarization and propagation direction of light, so it is commonly used to make quarter and half wave plates. Specialized use of mica is found in aircraft components and sea launched missile systems. Apart from these it is used in laser devices, radar systems and Geiger Muller tubes etc.
Uses of Mica in Cosmetics – Reflective and refractive properties of mica make it an important ingredient of cosmetic products. Mica is used in blushes, lipsticks, lip gloss, eye liner, eye shadow, foundation, glitters, mascara, nail polish, moisturizing lotions etc. Some teeth whitening agents also contain mica. Mica creates a natural shimmery finish on the skin. It helps to give a more youthful and shinier, wrinkle free look. Apart from these mica does not react with skin and is suitable for all skin types.
Uses of Mica Paper – Mainly, mica paper is used in mica plates and mica tapes. Mica is an excellent electrical insulator while a good thermal conductor and high temperature resistant (up to 1000 ℃). Due to these properties, mica tape is used in electrical and thermal appliances. It can also be used as a substitute of sheet mica. It is used for decorative purposes.
Uses of Mica in Medicines – We use mica in Ayurveda (Ancient medicine prevalent in India). It is used in preparation of various medicines for treatment of respiratory and digestion related diseases.
Other Uses of Mica – Thin and transparent sheets of mica are used in peepholes in lanterns, boilers, stoves etc. It is used to make capacitors for calibration standards. It is also used in transistors. It is used in high pressure steam boilers.
1. What is Mica?
Mica is a group or class of 37 phyllosilicate minerals which are monoclinic and have nearly perfect basal cleavage. The word mica is a Latin word which means ‘a crumb’. The word mica is probably influenced by Latin word micare which means ‘to glitter’. It is mainly used in capacitors.
2. What are Mica Sheets Used for?
Sheet mica is mainly used in electrical components of electric appliances, atomic force microscopy and house windows.
3. What was Mica Used for in WW-II (World War - II)?
During world war II mica was used for defensive purposes. Muscovite was an extremely important mineral during that time. In world war II, Mica was an important mineral during the industrial revolution. It was used in construction of buildings, aircrafts, telephones, radios and radar apparatus.
4. Why is Mica So Important?
Mica as a mineral shows unique properties. It shows a nearly perfect basal cleavage means it splits along definite crystallographic structural planes. It is an electrical insulator and at the same time it is a thermal conductor. These properties make mica a versatile mineral which is used in numerous fields from construction to space.
5. Is Mica Good for Skin?
Yes, mica is good and safe for skin health. Mica creates a natural shimmery finish on the skin. It helps to give a more youthful and shinier, wrinkle free look. That’s why it is used in cosmetic products. Mica helps to calm already irritated skin. Although long term inhalation of mica dust is harmful.
6. Where is Mica Found?
Mica occurs in igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary regimes. It is found in Europe, America, Africa etc. The world’s largest mica deposits are found in India in Jharkhand, Bihar and Madras.
7. State Two Main Properties of Mica?
The two main properties of mica are as follows –
It is an electrical insulator.
It is a thermal conductor.
It’s another unique property is that it splits along definite crystallographic structural plates.
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