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Silicon carbide

From Academic Kids

Silicon carbide (SiC), also known as carborundum or moissanite, is a ceramic compound of silicon and carbon.

Synthetic silicon carbide crystal aggregate: iridescent twinned crystals in foreground with untwinned tabular crystals in background. They have a metallic lustre and are razor-sharp.
Synthetic silicon carbide crystal aggregate: iridescent twinned crystals in foreground with untwinned tabular crystals in background. They have a metallic lustre and are razor-sharp.

Most silicon carbide is man-made for use as an abrasive (when it is often known by the trade name carborundum), or more recently as a semiconductor and moissanite gemstones. The simplest manufacturing process is to combine sand and carbon at a high temperature, between 1600°C and 2500°C. Purer product can be made by the more expensive process of chemical vapor deposition. Its high melting point (approximately 2700°C) makes it useful for bearings and furnace parts. It is also highly inert. There is currently much interest in its use in electronics, where its high thermal conductivity, high electric field breakdown strength and high maximum current density make it more promising than silicon for high-powered devices. In addition, it has strong coupling to microwave radiation and that, together with its high melting point permits practical use in heating and casting metals.

Contents

Uses

Semiconductor

Silicon carbide is used for blue LEDs, ultrafast Schottky diodes and MESFETs. Due to its high thermal conductivity, SiC is also used as substrate for other semiconductor materials such as gallium nitride[1] (http://www.qinetiq.com/home/commercial/information_communication_and_electronics/Electronics/optronics/quantum_electronics.html). It is also used as an ultraviolet detector. Nikola Tesla, around the turn of the 20th century, performed a variety of experiments with carborundum. Electroluminescence of silicon carbide was observed by Captain Henry Joseph Round in 1907 and by O.V. Lossev in the Soviet Union in 1923 [2] (http://www.indiana.edu/~hightech/fpd/papers/ELDs.html).

Structural material

In the 1980s and 1990s, silicon carbide was studied on several research programs for high-temperature gas turbines in the United States, Japan, and Europe. The components were intended to replace nickel superalloy turbine blades or nozzle vanes. However, none of these projects resulted in a production quantity, mainly because of its low impact resistance and its low fracture toughness.

Astronomy

Silicon carbide's hardness and rigidity make it a desirable mirror material for astronomical work, although they also make manufacturing and figuring such mirrors quite difficult.

Grit

Silicon carbide is a popular product in modern lapidary due to the durablility and low cost of the material.

Culture

In 2001: A Space Odyssey and the related series of books and movies (by Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick, among others) the monoliths (or at least their exteriors) were made of silicon carbide.

Patents

External links

nl:Siliciumcarbide ja:炭化ケイ素 sv:Kiselkarbid

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