Silicon carbide, also called carborundum, is a compound made from silicon and carbon. This chemical compound is found in a mineral called moissanite.
The naturally occurring form of silicon carbide is named after a French pharmacist called Dr. Ferdinand Henri Moissan. Moissanite is usually found in very little quantities in meteorites, kimberlite, and corundum. Hence, most commercial silicon carbide is synthetic.
Although it is difficult to find naturally occurring silicon carbide on Earth, it is quite abundant in space. Silicon carbide is one of the most useful chemical compounds in the world today. Its application cuts across a large number of industries.
Silicon carbide is used to manufacture bulletproof armor. The property of this compound that makes it to be applied for such a purpose is its hardness. Bullets and other harmful objects will have to contend with the hard ceramic blocks that silicon carbide forms. Bullets can't penetrate the ceramic blocks.
Silicon Carbide Used in Military Bulletproof Armor
Silicon carbide becomes a semiconductor when dopants are added to it. Dopants like boron and aluminum added to silicon carbide make it become a p-type semiconductor. On the other hand, dopants such as nitrogen and phosphorus added to silicon carbide make it become an n-type semiconductor. You can read this post for more information about the differences between p-type semiconductors & n-type semiconductors.
Silicon carbide is commonly used as an abrasive because of how hard it is. It is used in the manufacture of grinding wheels, cutting tools, and sandpaper. Silicon carbide abrasives are usually cheaper than other abrasives of similar quality. The abrasives are used to grind materials such as steel, aluminum, cast iron, and rubber.
Further Reading: An Introduction to Silicon Carbide Abrasives
Silicon carbide is a better choice over silicon for powering electric vehicles. Electric vehicles powered by silicon carbide are highly efficient and cost-effective. At present, many well-known companies have used silicon carbide to improve efficiency and range when manufacturing electric vehicles, such as Tesla.
Structurally similar to diamond, yet more lustrous, cheaper, more durable, and lighter than diamond, silicon carbide is a well-deserved alternative to diamond in the jewelry industry.
In addition to its other uses, silicon carbide is used as fuel. It is used as a fuel in steel manufacture and produces purer steel than most other fuels. It is also a cheaper and more environmentally-friendly fuel.
The first set of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to be produced made use of silicon carbide technology. It was used to manufacture blue, red, and yellow LEDs. LEDs are used in televisions, display boards, and computers.
Silicon carbide has certain unique properties that make it stand out for various industrial applications, such as jewelry making, the production of abrasives and semiconductors, and many others. Silicon carbide is one of the hardest known substances today, as it competes closely with substances like diamond and boron carbide. For complete information about silicon carbide ceramics, please refer to An Overview of Silicon Carbide Ceramic Materials.
An Overview of Silicon Nitride CeramicsNext
How Are Ceramic Components Made? (With Infographic)