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molybdenum silicide (MoSi2) is an intermetallic compound with moderate density and melting point of 2030 degC. It is electrically conductive and forms a passivation layer of silicon dioxide at high temperatures, which prevents further oxidation. It also exhibits good corrosion resistance and high toughness. The combination of these properties make MoSi2 an attractive material for use in electric furnaces used in laboratories and production environment in glass, steel, electronics and ceramics industries.
MoSi2 is gray square crystal powder insoluble in common mineral acids including aqua regia but soluble in mixture acid of nitric and hydrofluoric acid. The atomic radius of Mo and Si is comparable and their electronegativities are similar, resulting in close electronic interactions. It is also stable at high temperatures.
A new method for forming metal silicides on gated polycrystalline silicon (poly-Si) field emission cathodes has been developed. The Mo silicide coatings show superior performance compared to pure poly-Si emitters in both field emission current and stability.
The formation of the protective layer is highly dependent on the technology and environmental conditions. Chemical reactions of the metal components in contact with MoSi2 produce silicides and can lead to a gradual degradation of the protective coating. Besides the reaction with molten metals, the presence of gaseous noble gases (argon, nitrogen) disturbs the chemical equilibrium and accelerates the degradation of the MoSi2 layer. In addition, vapors of dust particles from molten metals react with the protective layer. For these reasons, the performance of a MoSi2 protective coating is limited in applications requiring high temperatures.