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Boron Carbide (B4C)

Boron carbide is a non-oxide engineering ceramic. It has a moderately high heat capacity among the non-oxide engineering ceramics in the database.

The properties of boron carbide include three common variations. This page shows summary ranges across all of them. For more specific values, follow the links immediately below. The graph bars on the material properties cards further below compare boron carbide to other non-oxide engineering ceramics (top) and the entire database (bottom). A full bar means this is the highest value in the relevant set. A half-full bar means it's 50% of the highest, and so on.

Mechanical Properties

Compressive (Crushing) Strength

1710 to 2200 MPa 250 to 320 x 103 psi

Elastic (Young's, Tensile) Modulus

240 to 460 GPa 34 to 67 x 106 psi

Flexural Strength

170 to 410 MPa 25 to 59 x 103 psi

Fracture Toughness

2.5 to 3.5 MPa-m1/2 2.3 to 3.2 x 103 psi-in1/2

Knoop Hardness

2600 to 3200

Poisson's Ratio

0.17 to 0.19

Tensile Strength: Ultimate (UTS)

350 MPa 51 x 103 psi

Thermal Properties

Maximum Temperature: Mechanical

1000 to 2500 °C 1830 to 4530 °F

Specific Heat Capacity

950 J/kg-K 0.23 BTU/lb-°F

Thermal Conductivity

31 to 90 W/m-K 18 to 52 BTU/h-ft-°F

Thermal Expansion

4.5 to 5.6 µm/m-K

Other Material Properties


2.1 to 2.7 g/cm3 130 to 170 lb/ft3

Dielectric Constant (Relative Permittivity) At 1 MHz


Electrical Resistivity Order of Magnitude

0 to 11 10x Ω-m

Common Calculations

Stiffness to Weight: Axial

63 to 100 points

Stiffness to Weight: Bending

91 to 100 points

Strength to Weight: Axial

37 to 47 points

Strength to Weight: Bending

42 to 53 points

Thermal Diffusivity

16 to 38 mm2/s

Thermal Shock Resistance

9.7 to 20 points

Followup Questions

Further Reading

Handbook of Refractory Carbides and Nitrides: Properties, Characteristics, Processing and Applications, Hugh O. Pierson, 1996

Springer Handbook of Condensed Matter and Materials Data, W. Martienssen and H. Warlimont (editors), 2005

Sintering of Advanced Materials: Fundamentals and Processes, Zhigang Zak Fang (editor), 2010