Molybdenum disilicide

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Molybdenum disilicide
CAS number 12136-78-6
Molecular formula MoSi2
Molar mass 152.111
Appearance grey metallic
Melting point

2030 °C

Except where noted otherwise, data are given for
materials in their standard state
(at 25 °C, 100 kPa)

Infobox references

Molybdenum disilicide (MoSi2, molybdenum silicide, or MOSI2), an intermetallic compound, a silicide of molybdenum, is a refractory ceramic with primary use in heating elements. It has moderate density, melting point 2030 °C, and is electrically conductive. At high temperatures it forms a passivation layer of silicon dioxide, protecting it from further oxidation. Its CAS number is [12136-78-6]. It is a gray metallic-looking material with tetragonal crystal structure (alpha-modification); its beta-modification is hexagonal and unstable. It is insoluble in acids and soluble in nitric acid and hydrofluoric acid.


While MoSi2 has excellent resistance to oxidation and high Young's modulus at temperatures above 1000 °C, it is brittle in lower temperatures. Also, at above 1200 °C it loses creep resistance. These properties limits its use as a structural material, but may be offset by using it together with another material as a composite material.

Molybdenum disilicide and MoSi2-based materials are usually made by sintering. Plasma spraying can be used for producing its dense monolithic and composite forms; material produced this way may contain a proportion of β-MoSi2 due to its rapid cooling.

Molybdenum disilicide heating elements can be used for temperatures up to 1800 °C, in electric furnaces used in laboratory and production environment in production of glass, steel, electronics, ceramics, and in heat treatment of materials. While the elements are brittle, they can operate at high power without aging, and their electrical resistivity does not increase with operation time. Their maximum operating temperature has to be lowered in atmospheres with low oxygen content due to breakdown of the passivation layer. Molybdenum disilicide heating elements are mainly sold by Kanthal (under the name Kanthal Super), M.E.SCHUPP, Germany, and MHI Inc. (under the trade name MP1800, MP1850 and above). MHI Inc. is based out of Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.

Other ceramic materials used for heating elements are eg. silicon carbide, barium titanate, and lead titanate composite materials.

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