Beta silicon carbide is a specialized form of silicon carbide that features a cubic crystalline structure rather than a spherical one. This structure gives beta silicon carbide unique qualities that make it particularly well-suited for certain applications across multiple industries.

What Is Beta Silicon Carbide?

Beta silicon carbide is defined by its cubic microcrystalline structure. The composite is highly sinterable in sub-micron sizes and can be adapted for various uses, but it always retains this distinctive structure and has unique properties because of the structure. The overall structure may be spheroidal and equalaxed, but the underlying microstructure is always cubic.
The cubic microstructure gives beta silicon carbide two unique traits when it’s compared to other forms of silicon carbide. Beta silicon carbide is:

Denser: The layering structure of cubes make this silicon carbide especially dense and, as a result, hard.

Self-Sharp: The right angles of cubes create microscopic jagged edges that make the silicon carbide self-sharp.

How Does Beta Silicon Carbide Differ From Alpha Silicon Carbide?

Beta silicon carbide is entirely distinct from alpha silicon carbide, and it shouldn’t be confused for one of the 70-something variations of alpha silicon carbide. What distinguishes the two forms of silicon carbide is the microcrystalline structure.

Whereas beta silicon carbide has a cubic microcrystalline structure, alpha crystalline carbide has a spherical microcrystalline structure. Alpha can be further segmented into variants that are more hexagonal or rhombohedral, but these all are variations of a spherical underpinning.

Both beta and alpha silicon carbides retain the quintessential properties of this compound. They both offer electric and heat conduction to an extent, and they both have minimal thermal expansion.

Both also are resistant to high temperatures, although alpha has greater temperature resistance. Alpha silicon carbide is made at temperatures exceeding 2,400°C, whereas beta silicon carbide is normally made in the 1,500 to 1,600°C range. At about 2100°C, beta will convert into alpha.

The different crystalline structure of alpha silicon carbide does give it some different properties than beta, however. Compared to beta silicon carbide, alpha silicon carbide isn’t as dense and doesn’t have the same self-sharpness.

What is Beta Silicon Carbide Used For?

The distinctive density and self-sharpness of beta silicon carbide make it well-suited for applications where friction and/or compactness are needed. There are several relevant applications across a few different industries.

Beta silicon carbide’s density, hardness and self-sharpness make it well-suited for heavy grinding. The compound will create more friction when grinding, and it’ll wear down less quickly. It’s commonly incorporated into high-performance brake parts and other wear parts to extend the parts’ life spans.

Beta silicon carbide is also preferable in sealing applications. The compact microcrystalline structure makes the compound seal more completely than alpha’s spherical microstructure. This application makes beta good for actual sealing products, as well as some military products that have to be sealed tightly.

Beta silicon carbide’s density and self-sharpness also make it ideal for fine polishing. The same qualities that make it well-suited for brake pads’ grinding also are applicable when applying a final polish. Alpha silicon carbide may be used for a rough polish, but it won’t be able to produce as fine a final polish as beta can.

Beta silicon carbide is likewise excellent in fine-precision grinding. It’s nearly as hard as diamond (having a hardness of 9.25 to 9.6), and is virtually unmatched in hardness except for diamonds and steels.

Beta silicon carbide’s cubic microstructure allows electrons to quickly pass along it. This gives it a slightly better electrical conductivity than alpha silicon carbide has, and it makes beta better for certain electrical applications. For example, beta will perform better in a generator.

Beta silicon carbide is much easier to sinter. Because beta has a much lower temperature than alpha, it can be made into different shapes with less energy expended. This efficiency is an important consideration in many manufacturing applications.

What Is Alpha Silicon Carbide Used For?

While beta silicon carbide is useful in many different applications, alpha silicon carbide still has its distinctive uses. Depending on a product’s specific needs, alpha silicon carbide may be used to make seals, nozzles, sintered wear parts, specialty filters, rough polishings, ceramic armors and mechanical armors.

What Industries Use Beta Silicon Carbide?

As mentioned, beta silicon carbide’s usefulness is relevant to businesses in many different industries. The following are merely a few industries that use beta silicon carbide:

Abrasives Industry: The abrasives industry uses beta silicon carbide to produce grinding wheels, honing sticks, loose abrasive polishes (fine), stone and silicon wafer cutting materials, and ceramics.

Ceramics Industry: The ceramics industry uses beta silicon carbide to produce high-performance wear parts, strong cutting tools and other high-performance ceramics.

Refractory Industry: Refractories may use beta silicon carbide in their electric heating elements and some other refractory products.

Wire Sawing: The wire sawing industry uses beta silicon carbide to cut silicon wavers, marble, granite and other stones. Beta silicon carbide is generally needed for this application because it’s denser than alpha.

Of course, there are still more industries that use beta silicon carbide for certain products and processes.

Get High-Quality Beta Silicon Carbide

At Superior Graphite, we’ve developed Sinter-Pur Beta Silicon Carbide to be a high-quality beta silicon carbide. Customers use the product in wear parts, seal rings, pump parts, and as additives to metals like chrome, nickel and aluminum.

To ensure the highest quality beta silicon carbide the compound is synthesized in our state-of-the-art fluidized bed graphite furnace. We use both spray-dried and we-attrition milled microgrits and powders, which may be ball-milled or air-milled. Our facility is equipped to produce many different grades of beta silicon carbide, and we’ll have one that’s right for your particular application.

If you need beta silicon carbide for any of the above-mentioned applications, contact us at Superior Graphite. One of our knowledgeable representatives will be happy to answer any questions that you have, and they can help you find the perfect beta silicon carbide for your application.

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