Silicon carbide is a unique carbon-silicon compound and one of the hardest metals available so far. The chemical formula for the compound is written as the SiC and its molecular weight is 40.10 g/mol approximately. This is the highly simpler compound where a carbon atom is attached with silicon atom by a triple bond. The bond has predominately covalent character instead of ionic and exists in different crystalline forms.
The most common form is a hexagonal crystal structure as given below –
The natural occurrence of the compound can be seen in rate mineral moissanite. At the industrial scale, the chemical compound is prepared by mixing silica and carbon together at very high temperatures within an electric furnace.
SiO2 + 3 C → SiC + 2 CO
The product is a colorless crystal with an approximate density of 3.21 g/mL and an extremely high melting point of 2,730 °C. Due to a small number of impurities, the process should be followed by mining or filtration process ahead.
The product is a highly stable compound and extremely hard too. The hardness of Silicon Carbide can be compared to the diamond as well and it has a high thermal conductivity, highly resistant to chemical reaction, low thermal expansion, and the ability to work as a semiconductor too.
The major uses of the product include making sandpapers, grinding wheels, hard ceramics, cutting tools, bricks, wear-resistant parts and more. This is taken as an important material in electronic industries and used for making LEDs and semiconductor devices too. When used in an excess amount, it may result in lung fibrosis or lung cancer etc.