The Conductivity of Silicon Carbide

Silicon carbide is one of the lightest and hardest ceramic materials, resisting corrosion, abrasion and frictional wear with ease. Additionally, its semiconducting properties make it suitable for high voltage applications like power electronics on electric vehicles.

Conductivity of SiC can be increased through doping with nitrogen or phosphorus for n-type semiconductors and aluminum, boron, or gallium for p-type semiconductors; furthermore it is an extremely thermally conductive material.


Silicon Carbide (SiC) is a strong hexagonal-structure chemical compound with wide band gap semiconductor properties. This makes SiC an excellent candidate for power electronic devices that require higher operating temperatures, higher blocking voltages, lower switching losses than silicon devices and wider band gaps to enable thinner designs that increase power density.

Silicon Carbide can be made electrically conductive through doping it with other elements, which is a popular practice within the semiconductor industry. Doping increases conductivity, temperature resistance and precision machining – for instance by adding an n-type dopant such as nitrogen or phosphorus which increases electron and hole connectivity within its crystal structure and thus conductivity.

Another method to increase the conductivity of silicon carbide is doping, or the process of adding impurities into its crystal structure, to boost conductivity. Doping can alter properties like its bandgap and thermal conductivity. For example, doping with an n-type dopant reduces its bandgap size so electrons can more easily cross over it into conductivity-boosting regions of its bandgap – increasing conductivity as a result.

Silicon carbide’s band gap can also be reduced by increasing its carbon content or replacing some oxygen atoms with hydrogen, since carbon has low binding energies with silicon while bonding energy between silicon and oxygen is significantly greater than between silicon and nitrogen atoms.

Silicon carbide’s band gap is three times larger than Silicon, making it an excellent material for power electronics applications. Its wide band gap enables it to withstand much higher switching voltages and frequencies compared to Silicon, and also can withstand high temperatures which is necessary in many electronic devices.

Silicon carbide possesses an extremely high intrinsic electrical conductivity, which can be enhanced through doping with either n-type or p-type dopants. It is typically hard and brittle material with colorless hues. Natural sources of SiC are limited: moissanite gems are occasionally discovered as are small quantities in meteorites and corundum deposits; most commercial SiC is synthetically manufactured.

Thermal conductivity

Silicon Carbide (SiC) is an indispensable material in power electronics, optoelectronics and quantum computing applications1. Localized heat fluxes may adversely impact their performance by rapidly raising temperatures – making high thermal conductivity essential in SiC-based electronic systems.

Silicon carbide boasts significantly higher thermal conductivity than copper, the most prevalent metal. This can be attributed to its strong atomic bonds and crystal lattice structure of SiC. However, despite this superior thermal conductivity it has an unusually low specific heat capacity compared to other materials; approximately 170 J/Kg, about half that of copper.

Studies conducted previously have demonstrated that silicon carbide’s thermal conductivity is greatly influenced by its microstructure and phase composition, particularly at lower temperatures. Phonon mean free paths in disordered SiC are shorter than in ordered phases.

Recently, we conducted extensive analyses on the frequency dependence of thermal conductivity of bulk and thin-film SiC samples using transient thermo-reflectance measurements. We observed that both disordered and pure 3C-SiC samples experienced decreases as a function of frequency – this trend being especially strong for lower frequency phonons.

This phenomenon can be explained by the stronger surface phonon scattering caused by boron defects than is caused by vacancies, with thermal conductivity suppression playing an essential part in improving thermal management for SiC-based microelectronics.

Silicon carbide, one of the lightest and hardest ceramic materials, combines carbon and silicon atoms in tetrahedra to form an ultra-hard and resilient material that resists corrosion, abrasion, erosion, and electrical shock. Thanks to its high Young’s modulus and low thermal expansion rates it makes an excellent structural material; used at temperatures up to 1600 degC without losing strength or stiffness and tolerating acids, alkalis, and molten salts with ease it has long been employed in chemical plants mills and expanders – not to mention mirrors for astronomical telescopes!

Electrical conductivity

Silicon carbide’s electrical conductivity varies with temperature. At lower temperatures, it acts like an insulator and resists electricity flow; but as temperatures increase it begins to behave more like a semiconductor and allow electricity to pass through more easily; this is due to having a wider bandgap energy gap which allows more electrons to become excited and move throughout the material.

Doping silicon carbide can help overcome its insulating properties through an addition of impurities that generate free charge carriers like electrons and holes, creating more free charge carriers such as electrons and holes that move freely within its crystal structure. With doping, silicon carbide can become either an insulator or semiconductor; doping with aluminum or gallium will give it P-type semiconductor properties, while adding nitrogen or phosphorus will create N-type semiconductor properties.

Silicon carbide’s superior bandgap energy gap allows it to be used in applications requiring higher voltages, such as high-voltage generators and power transistors. Silicon carbide allows higher voltages because its bandgap energy gap exceeds other semiconducting materials, such as silicon.

Noteworthy is also that silicon carbide’s thermal conductivity varies with its density; as density rises, so too will its thermal conductivity due to increased free electron movement through its structure, leading to more dissipated heat through phonon vibrations.

Silicon carbide naturally has low thermal and electrical conductivities; however, its conductivity can be increased through adding additives like carbon and boron during sintering. Carbon can alter its structure to allow more free electrons to move through it; while adding boron may increase its Seebeck coefficient and thus lower activation energy resulting in further improvements to conductivity.

Silicon carbide’s electrical conductivity can be further capitalized upon by using it as part of composite structures with metals or ceramics, particularly nuclear fusion reactors where structural components will be utilized as liquid metal blankets that create magnetic fields to contain the plasma. Low electrical and thermal resistivity are essential in these cases to minimize magnetohydrodynamic effects caused by liquid metal flowing over and around composite structures.


Silicon carbide’s conductivity makes it an indispensable material in various applications, from traditional semiconductor replacement to car components and bulletproof armor. For instance, its electrical conductivity enables it to serve a number of uses. Silicon carbide’s chemical stability also makes it extremely durable – ideal for high temperature environments like semiconductor manufacturing facilities.

SiC’s conductivity is determined by its bandgap. This refers to the difference in energy required for electrons to move from its valence band into its conduction band, or from valence band to conduction band. Materials with wide bandgaps are considered semiconductors while narrow ones act as insulators; pure silicon carbide acts as an insulator but with certain impurities it may exhibit semiconducting properties.

Silicon carbide can be created by heating it to very high temperatures in the presence of carbon. Edward C. Acheson first pioneered this technique in 1891 by infusing clay with powdered coke, using electric heat from an arc light arc light arc lamp and electric heaters, until finally producing a hard green substance with enough strength to scratch glass that he called carborundum.

Silicon carbide can be found both naturally in rocks such as diorite and moissanite and produced synthetically. The material features two primary coordination tetrahedra composed of four carbon and four silicon atoms bonded together into each tetrahedron; these tetrahedra then stack to form polytypes – with alpha polytype often being found with hexagonal crystal structures similar to Wurtzite as its most frequently encountered variant.

Doping silicon carbide allows it to be transformed into either a p-type or n-type semiconductor by adding various dopants such as boron and aluminum; nitrogen and phosphorus dopants turn it into an n-type semiconductor.

Glow Discharge Mass Spectrometry and X-Ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy are two popular bulk techniques for analysing silicon carbide; more accurate analysis may involve Inductively Coupled Plasma-Optical Emission Spectrometry or Laser Ablation-Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry on solid samples or digested/leached samples.

Torna in alto