Silicon carbide, or moissanite, is a common man-made mineral that is rarely occurring in nature. Silicon carbide has many applications ranging from ballistics to packaging. Here are some of them.
- Abrasion and Cutting. Silicon carbide is commonly used as an abrasive, especially with stones. Abrasion helps remove an upper layer of a stone to reveal a better looking layer. This is especially useful if the upper layer of the stone has been scratched. Since silicon carbide is very hard, only a few other stones, like diamonds, are harder on the Mohs scale, its hardness is used in cutting other, softer stones, as it is a cheap alternative to diamonds.
- Armor. Like boron carbide, silicon carbide is strong enough to stop bullets. This makes it very useful in military and police applications. Given enough silicon carbide, you can even make your own ceramic armor! The M1 Abrams is equipped with a silicon carbide hull. Silicon carbide is also used, along with titanium carbide and silicon nitride, as a heat shield for atmospheric re-entry, very useful in astronomy.
- Electricity. The earliest application of silicon carbide was as a lightning rod, or lightning arrester. These lightning arresters have the ability to protect the actual insulation of a machine from lightning. As lightning is a sudden, sharp increase in electrons, Silicon Carbide’s properties are useful in this situation. As they are relatively cheaper than other lightning arresters like gold and copper, silicon carbide is becoming a better choice in protecting large components of electrical plants.
- Nuclear fuel. Although not radioactive, silicon carbide provides a large part of the defense against radioactivity in nuclear plants. Most of the fission happens in an area that is quite small, and a thick layer of silicon carbide, along with other radioactive absorbing metals, is the first defense against a meltdown.
- Jewelry. Although not as expensive as a diamond, silicon carbide has a brighter luster than other gems, as it has a higher heat tolerance. Jewelry made out of silicon carbide can be expensive or cheap, depending on how much time and effort was placed in cutting the rock. However, as naturally occurring silicon carbide (known as moissanite in nature) is hard to find, Natural silicon carbide jewelry can fetch a high price.
- LED. An LED diode is mostly based on silicon carbide, as it has a higher rate of electron transmission, giving clearer pictures. Although there were some problems in the past, since high electron transmission broke Silicon Carbide diodes up, the matter has been resolved recently.
- Paper Products. Used in Collagraphy, silicon porous materials such as carborundum printmaking, a printmaking technique using a dark field and making light pass through it. Although expensive, the style that comes out is quite awesome.
- Steel Production. In steel production, a basic amount of silicon carbide that has been melted in a steel furnace can make the flames hotter, making it easier to melt the metal being burned. It is also used in high-temperature resistant metals like Titanium so that the scrap can be melted.