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Silicon Nitride is a ceramic material with extreme strength, toughness and corrosion resistance. It can be cooled and heated rapidly, and it is impervious to most inorganic acids (except hydrofluoric), making it an ideal material for high-performance applications that demand rapid cycling between hot and cold temperatures. This makes it a popular choice for industrial applications that require wear-resistant components that can withstand oxidation, thermal shock and mechanical stresses.
Its outstanding combination of mechanical, chemical and electrical properties, and its ability to withstand high temperatures place silicon nitride at the forefront of technical ceramic materials. Its exceptional mechanical strength, fracture toughness and wear resistance exceed that of most metals, while its creep and oxidation resistance and low thermal conductivity are superior to those of most industrial ceramics.
The excellent electrical properties of silicon nitride have made it an essential element for the manufacture of integrated circuits and microchips, serving as an insulator between polysilicon layers and as a barrier against water and sodium ions. It is also a common material for the cantilevers that act as sensing elements in atomic force microscopes.
Silicon nitride can be machined into complex geometries while in its green or biscuit state, but tolerances become more challenging as the material sinters and densifies. Fully sintered silicon nitride has a coefficient of thermal expansion that is higher than most common engineering materials, meaning that it requires more time and effort to machine into precise shapes and tolerances.