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Homemade Silicon Carbide LED

Here’s an LED indicator which was made at home out of a Silicon Carbide (SiC) crystal. The concept is simple, but a bit of trial and error goes into getting that tiny amber spot to light up.

The guesswork comes in finding the right piece of crystal. First [KOS] broke it into tiny pieces, then he started poking the chunks with electrified probes to see if he could get some light out of them. Once an active area was found he needed a base for the crystal. The image above shows the two nails which he used. This provides a large mounting area that also acts as a heat sink to make sure the LED won’t burn itself out. There’s a solder blob which he kept molten with his iron until the crystal could be pushed into place. That holds it securely as the pin which serves as the cathode is positioned.

The whole setup is soldered to some protoboard and is ready to use. This is the second time we remember seeing this technique used to fabricate LEDS. The first time was an accident.

Accidental LED fabrication

[Grenadier] had a piece of silicon carbide sitting around that he planned to use when making a primitive diode called a Cat’sWhisker Diode. While probing he noticed that one of the crystals threw off a bit of light. He popped it off and used JB Weld to attach it to a brass plate. The peculiar thing is that it generates light when power is run through it both forward and reverse biased. So what’s going on here? According to an informed discussion on the phenomenon there’s actually a pair of diodes in series but with their polarity reversed.


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