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What is silicon nitride used for?

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Author : Trunnano
Update time : 2022-09-27 15:25:30
Silicon nitride was discovered in the middle of the 19th century, but it is not easy to make because of its covalent bond. Silicon nitride ceramic is a kind of advanced engineering ceramics with high strength, fracture toughness, hardness, wear resistance and good chemical and thermal stability. Silicon nitride is a kind of polycrystalline composite, which is composed of silicon nitride grains (single crystals) embedded in amorphous or partially crystalline glass phase matrix. Their properties depend not only on the inherent properties of silicon nitride single crystals, but also on the size and morphology of silicon nitride grains, as well as the volume fraction and chemical properties of the glass phase at the silicon nitride grain boundaries. Si3N4 has excellent mechanical, thermal and physicochemical properties and can be used in traditional and highly innovative solutions. Si3N4's light weight, high bending strength, good wear resistance and ability to withstand the harshest environments make Si3N4 a reliable and sometimes the only alternative to traditional materials such as stainless steel, tungsten carbide and oxide-based materials.
Automobile industry.
One of the main applications of sintered silicon nitride is as a material for engine parts in the automotive industry. These include, in diesel engines, electric plugs for faster start-up; precombustion chambers for lower emissions, faster start-up and lower noise; and turbochargers to reduce engine lag and emissions. In spark ignition engines, silicon nitride is used to reduce worn rocker pads, turbocharger turbines to reduce inertia and engine lag, and exhaust control valves to increase acceleration.
Silicon nitride bearing is not only an all-ceramic bearing, but also a ceramic hybrid bearing, the ball is ceramic and the seat ring is steel. Compared with other ceramics, silicon nitride ceramics have good shock resistance. Therefore, the ball bearings made of silicon nitride ceramics are used for high performance bearings. Silicon nitride bearings are used in the main engine of the NASA space shuttle. Since silicon nitride ball bearings are harder than metal, this reduces contact with bearing tracks. Compared with traditional metal bearings, this can reduce friction by 80%, extend service life by 3 to 10 times, increase speed by 80%, reduce weight by 60%, run under insufficient lubrication, have higher corrosion resistance and higher operating temperature. The weight of silicon nitride ball is 79% lighter than tungsten carbide ball. Silicon nitride ball bearings can be used in high-end automotive bearings, industrial bearings, wind turbines, racing sports, bicycles, roller skates and skateboards. Silicon nitride bearings are particularly useful in applications where corrosion or electric or magnetic fields prohibit the use of metals, such as in tidal Flowmeters, where seawater erosion is a problem, or in electric field detectors.
High temperature material.
Silicon nitride has long been used in high temperature applications. In particular, it has been identified as one of the few integral ceramic materials that can withstand severe thermal shocks and thermal gradients produced by hydrogen / oxygen rocket engines. To demonstrate this capability in complex configurations, NASA scientists used advanced rapid prototyping technology to create one-inch diameter one-piece combustion chamber /nozzle (thruster) assemblies. The thruster was hot tested with hydrogen / oxygen propellant and went through five cycles, including a 5-minute cycle to 1320 °C material temperature.
Medical profession.
Silicon nitride has many orthopedic applications. The material is also a substitute for PEEK (polyether ether ketone) and titanium for spinal fusion devices. Compared with PEEK and titanium, the hydrophilic and micro-textured surfaces of silicon nitride help to improve the strength, durability and reliability of the materials. Some compositions of this material have antibacterial, antifungal or antiviral properties.
Metal working and cutting tools.
Because of its hardness, thermal stability and wear resistance, bulk and monolithic silicon nitride is used as the material of cutting tools. Especially recommended for high-speed machining of cast iron. Thermal hardness, fracture toughness and thermal shock resistance mean that sintered silicon nitride can cut cast iron, hard steel and nickel-based alloys with a surface speed 25 times faster than conventional materials such as tungsten carbide. Cutting tools have a great impact on manufacturing output. For example, compared with traditional tungsten carbide tools, face milling of gray cast iron with silicon nitride blades doubles the cutting speed, increases tool life from one part per blade to six parts, and reduces the average cost of the blade by 50%.
Electronic industry.
Silicon nitride is commonly used as an insulator and chemical barrier in integrated circuit manufacturing to electrically isolate different structures or as an etching mask in bulk micromachining. As the passivation layer of microchip, it is better than silicon dioxide because it has a significantly better diffusion barrier to water molecules and sodium ions (the two main sources of corrosion and instability in microelectronics). It is also used as a dielectric between polysilicon layers in analog chip capacitors.
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