silicon carbide

silicon carbide, chemical compound, SiC, that forms extremely hard, dark, iridescent crystals that are insoluble in water and other common solvents. Widely used as an abrasive, it is marketed under such familiar trade names as Carborundum and Crystolon. It is heat resistant, decomposing when heated to about 2,700°C; it is used in refractory materials, e.g., rods, tubes, firebrick, and in special parts for nuclear reactors. Very pure silicon carbide is white or colorless; crystals of it are used in semiconductors for high-temperature applications. Silicon carbide fibers, added as reinforcement to plastics or light metals, impart increased strength and stiffness. Silicon carbide is prepared commercially by fusing sand and coke in an electric furnace at temperatures above 2,200°C; a flux, e.g., sodium chloride, may be added to eliminate impurities. Silicon carbide was discovered (1891) by E. G. Acheson; early studies of it were made by Henri Moissan.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

More on silicon carbide from Fact Monster:

  • Carborundum - Carborundum: Carborundum: see silicon carbide.
  • sandpaper - sandpaper sandpaper, abrasive originally made by gluing grains of sand to heavy paper sheets. Today ...
  • abrasive - abrasive abrasive, material used to grind, smooth, cut, or polish another substance. Natural ...
  • carbide - carbide carbide, any one of a group of compounds that contain carbon and one other element that is ...
  • Edward Goodrich Acheson - Edward Goodrich Acheson Born: 1856 Birthplace: Washington, Penn. Carborundum—Carborundum is ...

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Compounds and Elements