The amazing powers of silicon carbide


Silicon carbide is one of those workhorse materials that can do almost anything. Because it has a high melting point, it is used in high performance brake discs, as a the matrix for particulate filters in engines, and because it is a semiconductor in high temperature and high voltage applications.  Come to think of it, silicon carbide is also used as an abrasive in sand paper.

Today you can add terahertz generator to the list. Jared Straight and pals from Cornell University bombarded silicon carbide with infrared light pulses and found that it in response, it emitted coherent radiation with a frequency of between 1 and 6 Thz.

That’s handy because the current best way to make terahertz radiation in this way is to bombard galium arsenide or zinc tellurium with infrared light. But both of these material are relatively fragile.

Silicon carbide, on the other hand, is unusually tough and so could lead to terahertz devices that are much more robust.

Ref: Emission of Terahertz Radiation from SiC

One Response to “The amazing powers of silicon carbide”

  1. Mu says:

    As someone that on a daily basis works with silicon carbide, albeit in fiber form, let me add that “tough” is relative. It’s still a ceramic, and subject to brittle failure. So it has an extremely low CTE, probably making it more stable under IR radiation.