Silicon Carbide – An Electrical Insulator With Unique Properties

Silicon carbide is an exciting material with exceptional properties, ranging from electrical insulation to conductivity depending on composition and fabrication process.

Make it conductive by doping it with nitrogen, phosphorus, aluminium or boron; this allows it to be used in electronic devices like diodes and transistors.


Silicon carbide is an outstanding material with numerous desirable characteristics that make it extremely durable and suitable for high performance applications, including excellent thermal conductivity, good abrasion resistance, elevated temperature operation without weakening in strength or integrity, low coefficient of thermal expansion rates that provide tight tolerances, stable performance.

Silicon carbide boasts significantly greater electrical conductivity than silicon, its more popular cousin. This allows electronic devices built from silicon carbide to effectively amplify, switch or convert signals within an electrical circuit at greater efficiencies than traditional semiconductors that use silicon do.

Material that exhibits semiconductivity. With the controlled addition of impurities or dopants, such as impurity dopings, it can display semi-conductivity properties. As such, this material has become increasingly useful in various functional applications including electronics that operate at elevated voltages, frequencies, and temperatures levels.

At room temperature, n-type hexagonal SiC has an intrinsic electrical conductivity of 1.3+-0.2×104 ohm-cm-1 which may be increased with dopings such as aluminium, boron, gallium, nitrogen or phosphorus to produce increased conductivity. Boon addition leads to formation of p-type semiconductor while nitrogen or phosphorus produce N-type semiconductors – dopants also affect band gap opening as well as superconductivity characteristics in this material.

Porous silicon carbide ceramics that exhibit controllable thermal and electrical properties have become an attractive solution for numerous industrial applications, with excellent permeability, mechanical properties, chemical stability and sintering behavior being hallmarks of success.

This is due in part to its extremely low density and stiffness, making it lightweight while remaining strong and rigid. Furthermore, its excellent flexural strength makes processing complex shapes easy while its superior wear resistance makes it perfect for applications involving an aggressive grinding tool.


Silicon carbide (SiC) is widely utilized for applications requiring high quality, reliability, and efficiency. Due to its wide bandgap properties, SiC can operate at higher temperatures, voltages, frequencies than other semiconductor materials while boasting excellent thermal conductivity that can help minimize power losses in electronic devices. Furthermore, SiC’s ability to withstand mechanical stress makes it especially suitable in harsh environments where other materials might fail.

SiC’s widebandgap allows for smaller and more powerful electronics that can withstand higher voltages without fail – this feature is especially important in electric vehicle inverter systems which must handle extremely high current levels without failing. Silicon carbide’s resistance to increased voltages and currents helps extend driving range by improving efficiency of inverters.

Porous silicon carbide ceramics have numerous applications, from structural components in nuclear fusion reactors and electromagnetic shielding to electromagnetic resistivity regulation. Their resistivity can differ significantly depending on factors like polytype, processing conditions, porosity and additive composition – this article reviews these influential factors on sintered porous SiC’s resistivity.

Silicon carbide was first discovered in 1891, initially created by heating silica sand with petroleum coke carbon source in an Acheson furnace. Once produced, it would then be ground down into grains for use in light bulbs and radio detectors – the color green or black reflecting purity, where green indicates greater purity than black SiC.

Electrical conductivity of porous silicon carbide can vary significantly based on polytype, sintering temperature, template content and additive composition. Okamoto et al. reported that adding small amounts of silicon (1.4mol%) did not alter sintering temperature or yield; however, more than 5mol% Si additive significantly enhanced both. In addition, high Seebeck coefficients have been observed in b-SiC samples suggesting deep acceptors created through Si or Al doping may compensate for impurities and increase sintering temperature.


Silicon carbide is produced through heating sand with carbon sources like petroleum coke in an Acheson furnace, creating high temperature conditions that form crystalline silicon carbide grains in both Green and Black variants. Their color indicates their purity levels – with Green SiC being of greater purity than Black.

Silicon carbide’s electrical conductivity stems from its crystalline structure. In its pure state, silicon carbide acts as an insulator and resists electricity’s flow; but by adding impurities or dopants such as nitrogen and phosphorus atoms or dopants into its crystal structure doping silicon carbide can reveal semiconductivity properties; doping silicon carbide with beryllium aluminum boron gallium creates an n-type semiconductor.

Silicon carbide’s combination of strength, hardness and thermal conductivity make it an invaluable material for industrial uses, including grinding and cutting tools as well as protective gear and high-performance engineering components like pump bearings, valves, sandblasting injectors and extrusion dies. Furthermore, its low expansion/contraction coefficient at high temperatures makes it ideal for creating components requiring structural integrity under challenging environmental or temperature conditions.

Silicon Carbide’s low reactivity with water makes it ideal for producing components that need prolonged contact with liquid, such as those used for heat dissipation. Furthermore, its non-reactivity allows it to withstand exposure to corrosive chemical substances – making it the perfect component for applications which must operate under different environmental conditions.

Silicon carbide’s unique atomic structure also enables it to handle high voltages, making it increasingly valuable in the electronics industry. Semiconductors – key building blocks of most modern electronic devices – require ever-increasing temperatures, voltages and frequencies in order to operate successfully. Silicon carbide boasts an exceptionally wide bandgap energy gap (three times larger than silicon) enabling it to meet these increased power demands without suffering damage or failure.


Silicon carbide is a semiconductor material, meaning that it lies somewhere between metals (which conduct electricity) and insulators (which do not). Silicon carbide has traditionally been used for structural applications; however, in recent years its controllable thermal and electrical properties have drawn interest for advanced functional uses2.2

SiC’s semiconduction properties can be controlled through controlled addition of impurities and doping agents and temperature. SiC in its pure state is an electrical insulator; with additional impurities added it becomes resistant and displays resistance due to its wide band gap that allows electrons to freely move throughout its composition.

Silicon carbide’s band gap is three times wider than that of silicon, making it a better semiconductor choice for high-voltage applications such as electronics. As such, its wider band gap enables smaller, lighter, and more energy efficient electronics designs as well as offering greater stability performance under high temperatures and voltages than other semiconductors.

As with other semiconductors, SiC’s conductivity depends on its doping levels. Dopants are atoms that fill vacant lattice sites to introduce additional charge carriers into its crystal structure, increasing electron flow through it and thus altering its electrical properties. Doping can be achieved through adding different elements into its raw material including aluminum, beryllium, boron, gallium nitrogen or phosphorus for example.

Although a range of doping levels is feasible, certain restrictions must be respected. If dopants exceed certain concentration thresholds, then material will become nonconductor; to prevent this, doping processes typically occur under low pressure or vacuum.

Other factors affecting silicon carbide’s electrical resistivity include its polytype and processing conditions. For instance, when sintered under identical processing conditions and porosity conditions b-SiC has lower electrical resistivity due to its lower bandgap energy and greater solubility for nitrogen gas than its a-SiC counterpart; this may be explained by its lower bandgap energy as well as increased solubility of N2. However, using different sintering atmospheres and metal nitrides it may also be possible to design compositions with controlled electrical resistivity such as this b-SiC.

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