Silicon Carbide and Its Electrical Conductivity

Silicon carbide is an extremely hard synthetic material with a Mohs scale hardness of 9, making it the ninth hardest material on a hardness continuum. Furthermore, silicon carbide exhibits excellent electrical conductivity properties as well as withstanding high temperatures.

Electronic components made from ceramic materials can be assembled to form devices that amplify, switch and convert signals in an electrical circuit. Such devices are utilized by numerous electric vehicle applications including power supplies and traction control inverters.

It’s a semiconductor

Silicon carbide is a semiconductor with a wide bandgap that allows it to withstand high voltages. It boasts ten times the voltage resistance of ordinary silicon and even outperforms gallium nitride in systems exceeding 1000V, making it suitable for power electronic devices such as diodes and transistors, pump bearings, valves and abrasive nozzles used industrially as well as ceramic plates found inside bulletproof vests.

Edward G. Acheson made the discovery of silicon carbide in 1891 when he heated a mixture of powdered clay and carbon in an electrical furnace similar to a coal arc lamp, producing crystals similar to diamonds in terms of hardness and brightness. He named this new compound carborundum after its natural mineral form corundum.

Silicon carbide has an intricate crystal structure consisting of layers composed of silicon and carbon atoms covalently bound together in tetrahedral coordination forms, creating a semiconductor which oscillates between conducting and insulating states, which allows it to transfer electricity without losing energy; making it suitable for electric vehicles which need power electronics capable of handling high voltages and currents.

It’s expensive

Silicon carbide is an expensive material to produce, with costs driven primarily by raw materials and manufacturing process expenses. Due to this high manufacturing cost, silicon carbide has historically only been suitable for large-scale applications; however, technological advancements may expand its market further in the near future.

Silicon carbide is used as a raw material in the refractory industry for producing high-quality refractories, as it’s highly corrosion resistant and can withstand extreme temperatures. Sandblasting and grinding operations also utilize it effectively, in addition to ceramic production and ferrous materials production.

Silicon carbide in its pure state is an electrical insulator; however, when doped with impurities or other elements it can exhibit semi-conducting properties, making it useful in various electronic devices.

Asia Pacific currently leads the global silicon carbide market due to the high demand for cell phone base stations and radio frequency components, and is projected to remain the primary revenue generator in coming years.

Silicon carbide market drivers include growth in steel production and worldwide adoption of zero emission technology. Silicon carbide components used in electric vehicles will likely further fuel this market; due to being more energy-efficient and taking up less space than their fuel-based equivalents.

It’s difficult to process

Silicon carbide has many applications in various fields, yet processing it can be challenging. Production involves heating silica sand and carbon together in high-temperature furnaces until all impurities have been eliminated from the mix (some estimates put waste material production at up to 40%).

Silicon Carbide in its pure form acts as an insulator, but when doped with nitrogen or phosphorus it becomes a semiconductor and can even be further doped with aluminum, boron, gallium or beryllium to produce n-type and p-type semiconductors, making SiC a suitable semiconductor material at both high temperatures and power levels.

Silicon carbide may still be costly, but it will become an integral component of electronic devices over time. Due to its much higher energy bandgap compared with silicon, silicon carbide allows devices that operate at higher temperatures and voltages than usual to function. This feature is especially important in electric vehicles where consumers require longer driving range and faster charging times.

Silicon carbide must first be cut into wafers before being used in electronic devices, a lengthy and precise process which requires high-quality equipment and expert knowledge. One major impediment to silicon carbide’s widespread adoption is that its hardness makes slicing it harder, leading to waste material and lower product yields.

It’s used in electronic vehicles

Silicon Carbide (SiC) is an advanced third-generation semiconductor material with the potential to significantly boost electric vehicle performance and efficiency. SiC possesses better electrical properties than traditional silicon, such as higher temperature working ranges, greater allowable junction temperatures, higher power density density and greater radiation resistance; additionally it can handle high voltages and currents more effectively which reduce power losses and increase efficiency.

Silicon carbide is a hard, brittle ceramic composed of silicon and carbon that has numerous applications. From being used as an adhesive in carborundum abrasives and bulletproof vests to high performance electronics like power electronic devices and photovoltaic cells containing silicon carbide as an ingredient reducing manufacturing costs by increasing lifespan and decreasing power consumption of components, silicon carbide can help save manufacturing costs by adding lifespan while simultaneously decreasing power usage.

United Silicon Carbide has developed silicon carbide semiconductors which can help the industry find ways to decrease power transmission losses for electric vehicles, realizing more efficient drivetrains and power devices – with up to 30% reductions in power loss reduction, higher power density, lower component count and faster charging systems than previous-generation semiconductors. These third-generation silicon carbide semiconductors may enable even faster charging systems for EVs.

Scroll to Top