After ordering some pieces of mica, and sensing a certain emptiness in the bank account, it might be amusing to realise that mica was not always the expensive window material that it is now. In the early years of the colonisation of North-America by the Europeans, in the time that buffalo still roamed the wide open spaces and Indian tribes were still thriving and the English still the rulers, so really way back in time, before Madonna started to sing and Homer was not yet associated with the Simpsons but only with some old Greeks, even before Brigitte Bardot started worrying about homeless doggies, muscovite mica was sometimes found in such large sheets that it could be used as window material for houses. Price technically it could compete with glass which had to be imported from England with all the associated dangers from breakage and unpleasanteries of greedy custom officers and their import duties. For the non-believers: A very large piece of about 1 meter high can be seen in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington.

Muscovite, commonly known as white mica, is a member of the mica family of minerals. The mica minerals all share the property of perfect basal cleavage, which means that layers of mica can be peeled off of a mica crystal in very thin sheets. It is especially easy to peel off large numbers of paper-thin sheets from a muscovite crystal. Consequently, crystals of mica, like the one shown below, are often referred to as books of mica.

Phlogopite is a mica variety that is formed in nature at higher temperatures. It does not desintegrate like muscovite even when a gas burner is used. This material can be used for high temperature furnaces and SAXS experiments.

mica_1.jpg (Mica 1)

Muscovite peels in thin, transparent, flexible layers.
Photographs by R.Weller/Cochise College.


A reliable supplier of mica products can be found in Preston U.K.
contact: Peter Masheter (+44 1772 256768) / James Saunders (+44 1706 526255).

For rapid delivery of small volumes one can contact Goodfellows.

You're well adviced to remember that mica is a natural product. The larger dimensions one demands and the higher the quality the higher the price. Price increases are exponential with size, not linear.