Silicon Carbide Definition

Silicon carbide, more commonly referred to by its acronym SiC, is an abrasive material composed of silicon and carbon that has been produced industrially since the late 19th century for use as an abrasive. Furthermore, natural deposits of SiC are present within moissanite mineral formations.

Ceramic glazes contain powders of this substance that, when added to ceramic kiln firings, produce bubbles of glass that add visual and textural appeal.


Silicon carbide is an extremely hard substance used as a blasting medium when grinding materials, with an Mohs scale rating approaching diamond. Additionally, this ceramic material forms part of grinding wheels and cutting tools as well as being found in products such as emery cloth, sandpaper and shoes soles, nonferrous furnace refractory bricks for nonferrous metallurgy and ceramic industry furnaces as refractory bricks in nonferrous metallurgy furnaces as refractory bricks refractory bricks found on nonferrous metallurgy furnaces or in high temperature applications such as ceramic plates found in bulletproof vests.

Silicon carbide’s abrasive qualities stem from its layered crystal structure. Each carbon atom bonds to four silicon atoms in an octahedral configuration for strong bonding properties – making this material one of the only synthetic substances with such properties that make an impactful statement about performance industrial applications.

Silicon carbide mirrors are the ideal material for use in astronomical telescopes due to their rigidity, low thermal expansion and strength characteristics. Both Herschel Space Telescope and Gaia Space Telescope use silicon carbide mirrors in order to reflect light. Chemical vapor deposition provides an effective means for creating these materials as silicon and carbon grow together into polycrystalline film forms on glass substrates.


Silicon carbide semiconductors have made significant strides in the automotive industry thanks to their ability to handle high voltages. This feat can be attributed to its wide bandgap that allows electrons to more easily pass over it than standard silicon semiconductors do.

Silicon carbide’s unique properties make it suitable for various electrical applications, including power generation. As such, silicon carbide has gained increasing popularity in electric vehicle applications where it creates more efficient and powerful power electronics that can withstand higher voltages than their silicon equivalents.

Silicon carbide does not naturally occur (except as a rare mineral called moissanite ), yet has been mass produced as powder form for over 100 years and now used in applications like grinding wheels, abrasives and bulletproof vests. Its superior properties include high hardness (9 on Mohs scale), chemical inertness, thermal conductivity and abrasion resistance – qualities which make silicon carbide widely sought-after by manufacturers of these applications.

Silicon carbide forms in two primary coordination tetrahedra consisting of four silicon and four carbon atoms covalently bound by covalent bonds, known as coordination tetrahedra. By altering its atomic arrangement to produce different polytypes crystalline structures can be produced. By adding impurities such as trivalent or pentavalent substances engineers can alter electrical properties to meet different applications – popular dopants include boron, phosphorus and arsenic as dopants for silicon carbide dopants.

Heat Resistant

Silicon carbide’s hard and durable nature enables it to withstand both high heat temperatures and wear-and-tear, making it a key material in industrial furnace linings, rocket engine components, wear-resistant tools such as grinding wheels and tool blades, ceramics and even doped with nitrogen, phosphorus, aluminum or gallium to produce semiconductors used in electronics such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

Silicon carbide occurs naturally as the mineral moissanite. First discovered in 1893 at Canyon Diablo meteor crater in Arizona, its structure resembles diamonds – in fact, moissanite jewelry has long been sold as an alternative.

Silicon carbide has long been recognized for its use in arts and crafts due to its abrasive properties. It can be found being utilized to sand wood, metals and stones into smooth surfaces for painting or varnishing; additionally it is an integral material in modern lapidary, used across numerous techniques ranging from glass etching to stone carving.

Elkem SiC offers StarCeram S silicon carbide, an industrial ceramic which can be formed into various shapes and sizes for specific applications, with fine surface finishes for polishing purposes. Our facility in Liege, Belgium features advanced equipment capable of manufacturing SiC products according to precise specifications.

Electrical Conductor

Silicon Carbide (SiC), commonly referred to as Carborundum, occurs naturally as the mineral moissanite and has been mass produced as powder since 1893 for abrasive applications such as grinding wheels. Since 1893 it has also been mass sintering to form very hard ceramics which are used in applications requiring high endurance such as car brakes, clutches and bulletproof vest ceramic plates embedded with SiC plates embedded with wide bandgap silicon in these capacities. SiC’s wide bandgap makes it superior in these respects to silicon.

The bandgap refers to the amount of energy required for electrons to transition between valence and conduction bands in an atom, thus making the electrons move faster and more efficiently – essential characteristics for semiconductor devices operating at high speeds and/or voltages. A wider bandgap allows electrons to travel faster between these bands.

SiC has an extended bandgap compared to traditional semiconductor silicon, making it an ideal material for power electronics like those found in electric vehicles’ traction inverters. SiC’s superior thermal conductivity over silicon further adds to this advantage and allows more efficient power electronics operation without the need for active cooling systems that add weight and cost to EVs.

Scroll to Top