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A Ming Dynasty porcelain vase dated to 1403-1424 Blue and white vase Jingdezhen Ming Yongle 1403 1424.jpg
A Ming Dynasty porcelain vase dated to 1403–1424
A selection of silicon nitride components. Si3N4bearings.jpg
A selection of silicon nitride components.
Fire test furnace insulated with firebrick and ceramic fibre insulation. Firebrick electric furnace ceramic fibre gasket.jpg
Fire test furnace insulated with firebrick and ceramic fibre insulation.
Mid-16th century ceramic tilework on the Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem Palestine-2013-Jerusalem-Temple Mount-Dome of the Rock-Detail 01.jpg
Mid-16th century ceramic tilework on the Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem
Spherical Hanging Ornament, 1575-1585, Ottoman period. Brooklyn Museum. Spherical Hanging Ornament, 1575-1585.jpg
Spherical Hanging Ornament, 1575–1585, Ottoman period. Brooklyn Museum.
Fixed partial porcelain denture, or "bridge" Bridge from dental porcelain.jpg
Fixed partial porcelain denture, or "bridge"

A ceramic (Ancient Greek : κεραμικός — keramikós, “potter's”, from Ancient Greek : κέραμος — kéramos, “potter's clay”) is a solid material comprising an inorganic compound of metal, non-metal or metalloid atoms primarily held in ionic and covalent bonds. Common examples are earthenware, porcelain, and brick.

Solid solid object

Solid is one of the four fundamental states of matter. In solids molecules are closely packed. It is characterized by structural rigidity and resistance to changes of shape or volume. Unlike liquid, a solid object does not flow to take on the shape of its container, nor does it expand to fill the entire volume available to it like a gas does. The atoms in a solid are tightly bound to each other, either in a regular geometric lattice or irregularly. Solids cannot be compressed with little pressure whereas gases can be compressed with little pressure because in gases molecules are loosely packed.

An inorganic compound is typically a chemical compound that lacks C-H bonds, that is, a compound that is not an organic compound, but the distinction is not defined or even of particular interest.

Metal element, compound, or alloy that is a good conductor of both electricity and heat

A metal is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, shows a lustrous appearance, and conducts electricity and heat relatively well. Metals are typically malleable or ductile. A metal may be a chemical element such as iron, or an alloy such as stainless steel.


The crystallinity of ceramic materials ranges from highly oriented to semi-crystalline, vitrified, and often completely amorphous (e.g., glasses). Most often, fired ceramics are either vitrified or semi-vitrified as is the case with earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain. Varying crystallinity and electron composition in the ionic and covalent bonds cause most ceramic materials to be good thermal and electrical insulators (extensively researched in ceramic engineering). With such a large range of possible options for the composition/structure of a ceramic (e.g. nearly all of the elements, nearly all types of bonding, and all levels of crystallinity), the breadth of the subject is vast, and identifiable attributes (e.g. hardness, toughness, electrical conductivity, etc.) are difficult to specify for the group as a whole. General properties such as high melting temperature, high hardness, poor conductivity, high moduli of elasticity, chemical resistance and low ductility are the norm, [1] with known exceptions to each of these rules (e.g. piezoelectric ceramics, glass transition temperature, superconductive ceramics, etc.). Many composites, such as fiberglass and carbon fiber, while containing ceramic materials, are not considered to be part of the ceramic family. [2]

Crystallinity refers to the degree of structural order in a solid. In a crystal, the atoms or molecules are arranged in a regular, periodic manner. The degree of crystallinity has a big influence on hardness, density, transparency and diffusion. In a gas, the relative positions of the atoms or molecules are completely random. Amorphous materials, such as liquids and glasses, represent an intermediate case, having order over short distances but not over longer distances.

Vitrification the transformation of a substance into a glass

Vitrification is the transformation of a substance into a glass, that is to say a non-crystalline amorphous solid. In the production of ceramics, vitrification is responsible for its impermeability to water.

Glass amorphous solid that exhibits a glass transition when heated towards the liquid state

Glass is a non-crystalline, amorphous solid that is often transparent and has widespread practical, technological, and decorative uses in, for example, window panes, tableware, and optoelectronics. The most familiar, and historically the oldest, types of manufactured glass are "silicate glasses" based on the chemical compound silica (silicon dioxide, or quartz), the primary constituent of sand. The term glass, in popular usage, is often used to refer only to this type of material, which is familiar from use as window glass and in glass bottles. Of the many silica-based glasses that exist, ordinary glazing and container glass is formed from a specific type called soda-lime glass, composed of approximately 75% silicon dioxide (SiO2), sodium oxide (Na2O) from sodium carbonate (Na2CO3), calcium oxide (CaO), also called lime, and several minor additives.

The earliest ceramics made by humans were pottery objects (i.e. pots or vessels) or figurines made from clay, either by itself or mixed with other materials like silica, hardened and sintered in fire. Later ceramics were glazed and fired to create smooth, colored surfaces, decreasing porosity through the use of glassy, amorphous ceramic coatings on top of the crystalline ceramic substrates. [3] Ceramics now include domestic, industrial and building products, as well as a wide range of ceramic art. In the 20th century, new ceramic materials were developed for use in advanced ceramic engineering, such as in semiconductors.

Pottery craft of making objects from clay

Pottery is the process of forming vessels and other objects with clay and other ceramic materials, which are fired to give them a hard, durable form. Major types include earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. The place where such wares are made by a potter is also called a pottery. The definition of pottery used by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), is "all fired ceramic wares that contain clay when formed, except technical, structural, and refractory products." In archaeology, especially of ancient and prehistoric periods, "pottery" often means vessels only, and figures etc. of the same material are called "terracottas". Clay as a part of the materials used is required by some definitions of pottery, but this is dubious.

Figurine small item resembling something, usually a person

A figurine or statuette is a small statue that represents a human, deity or animal, or in practice a pair or small group of them. Figurines have been made in many media, with clay, metal, wood, glass, and today plastic or resin the most significant. Ceramic figurines not made of porcelain are called terracottas in historical contexts.

Clay A finely-grained natural rock or soil material that combines one or more clay minerals

Clay is a finely-grained natural rock or soil material that combines one or more clay minerals with possible traces of quartz (SiO2), metal oxides (Al2O3, MgO etc.) and organic matter. Geologic clay deposits are mostly composed of phyllosilicate minerals containing variable amounts of water trapped in the mineral structure. Clays are plastic due to particle size and geometry as well as water content, and become hard, brittle and non–plastic upon drying or firing. Depending on the soil's content in which it is found, clay can appear in various colours from white to dull grey or brown to deep orange-red.

The word " ceramic " comes from the Greek word κεραμικός (keramikos), "of pottery" or "for pottery", [4] from κέραμος (keramos), "potter's clay, tile, pottery". [5] The earliest known mention of the root "ceram-" is the Mycenaean Greek ke-ra-me-we, "workers of ceramics", written in Linear B syllabic script. [6] The word "ceramic" may be used as an adjective to describe a material, product or process, or it may be used as a noun, either singular, or, more commonly, as the plural noun "ceramics". [7]

Greek language language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Mycenaean Greek Most ancient attested form of the Greek language from the 16th to 12th centuries BC

Mycenaean Greek is the most ancient attested form of the Greek language, on the Greek mainland, Crete and Cyprus in Mycenaean Greece, before the hypothesised Dorian invasion, often cited as the terminus post quem for the coming of the Greek language to Greece. The language is preserved in inscriptions in Linear B, a script first attested on Crete before the 14th century. Most inscriptions are on clay tablets found in Knossos, in central Crete, as well as in Pylos, in the southwest of the Peloponnese. Other tablets have been found at Mycenae itself, Tiryns and Thebes and at Chania, in Western Crete. The language is named after Mycenae, one of the major centres of Mycenaean Greece.

Linear B Syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek

Linear B is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, the earliest attested form of Greek. The script predates the Greek alphabet by several centuries. The oldest Mycenaean writing dates to about 1450 BC. It is descended from the older Linear A, an undeciphered earlier script used for writing the Minoan language, as is the later Cypriot syllabary, which also recorded Greek. Linear B, found mainly in the palace archives at Knossos, Cydonia, Pylos, Thebes and Mycenae, disappeared with the fall of Mycenaean civilization during the Late Bronze Age collapse. The succeeding period, known as the Greek Dark Ages, provides no evidence of the use of writing. It is also the only one of the Bronze Age Aegean scripts to have been deciphered, by English architect and self-taught linguist Michael Ventris.


A low magnification SEM micrograph of an advanced ceramic material. The properties of ceramics make fracturing an important inspection method. Ceramic fractured SEM.TIF
A low magnification SEM micrograph of an advanced ceramic material. The properties of ceramics make fracturing an important inspection method.

A ceramic material is an inorganic, non-metallic, often crystalline oxide, nitride or carbide material. Some elements, such as carbon or silicon, may be considered ceramics. Ceramic materials are brittle, hard, strong in compression, and weak in shearing and tension. They withstand chemical erosion that occurs in other materials subjected to acidic or caustic environments. Ceramics generally can withstand very high temperatures, ranging from 1,000 °C to 1,600 °C (1,800 °F to 3,000 °F). Glass is often not considered a ceramic because of its amorphous (noncrystalline) character. However, glassmaking involves several steps of the ceramic process, and its mechanical properties are similar to ceramic materials.

Carbon Chemical element with atomic number 6

Carbon is a chemical element with symbol C and atomic number 6. It is nonmetallic and tetravalent—making four electrons available to form covalent chemical bonds. It belongs to group 14 of the periodic table. Three isotopes occur naturally, 12C and 13C being stable, while 14C is a radionuclide, decaying with a half-life of about 5,730 years. Carbon is one of the few elements known since antiquity.

Silicon Chemical element with atomic number 14

Silicon is a chemical element with symbol Si and atomic number 14. It is a hard and brittle crystalline solid with a blue-grey metallic lustre; and it is a tetravalent metalloid and semiconductor. It is a member of group 14 in the periodic table: carbon is above it; and germanium, tin, and lead are below it. It is relatively unreactive. Because of its high chemical affinity for oxygen, it was not until 1823 that Jöns Jakob Berzelius was first able to prepare it and characterize it in pure form. Its melting and boiling points of 1414 °C and 3265 °C respectively are the second-highest among all the metalloids and nonmetals, being only surpassed by boron. Silicon is the eighth most common element in the universe by mass, but very rarely occurs as the pure element in the Earth's crust. It is most widely distributed in dusts, sands, planetoids, and planets as various forms of silicon dioxide (silica) or silicates. More than 90% of the Earth's crust is composed of silicate minerals, making silicon the second most abundant element in the Earth's crust after oxygen.

Shear stress component of stress coplanar with a material cross section

A shear stress, often denoted by τ, is the component of stress coplanar with a material cross section. Shear stress arises from the force vector component parallel to the cross section of the material. Normal stress, on the other hand, arises from the force vector component perpendicular to the material cross section on which it acts.

Traditional ceramic raw materials include clay minerals such as kaolinite, whereas more recent materials include aluminium oxide, more commonly known as alumina. The modern ceramic materials, which are classified as advanced ceramics, include silicon carbide and tungsten carbide. Both are valued for their abrasion resistance and hence find use in applications such as the wear plates of crushing equipment in mining operations. Advanced ceramics are also used in the medicine, electrical, electronics industries and body armor.

Kaolinite phyllosilicate mineral

Kaolinite is a clay mineral, part of the group of industrial minerals, with the chemical composition Al2Si2O5(OH)4. It is a layered silicate mineral, with one tetrahedral sheet of silica (SiO
) linked through oxygen atoms to one octahedral sheet of alumina (AlO
) octahedra. Rocks that are rich in kaolinite are known as kaolin or china clay.

Silicon carbide semiconductor containing silicon and carbon

Silicon carbide (SiC), also known as carborundum, is a semiconductor containing silicon and carbon. It occurs in nature as the extremely rare mineral moissanite. Synthetic SiC powder has been mass-produced since 1893 for use as an abrasive. Grains of silicon carbide can be bonded together by sintering to form very hard ceramics that are widely used in applications requiring high endurance, such as car brakes, car clutches and ceramic plates in bulletproof vests. Electronic applications of silicon carbide such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and detectors in early radios were first demonstrated around 1907. SiC is used in semiconductor electronics devices that operate at high temperatures or high voltages, or both. Large single crystals of silicon carbide can be grown by the Lely method and they can be cut into gems known as synthetic moissanite. SiC with high surface area can be produced from SiO2 contained in plant material.

Tungsten carbide chemical compound

Tungsten carbide is a chemical compound containing equal parts of tungsten and carbon atoms. In its most basic form, tungsten carbide is a fine gray powder, but it can be pressed and formed into shapes through a process called sintering for use in industrial machinery, cutting tools, abrasives, armor-piercing rounds, other tools and instruments, and jewelry.

Crystalline ceramics

Crystalline ceramic materials are not amenable to a great range of processing. Methods for dealing with them tend to fall into one of two categories – either make the ceramic in the desired shape, by reaction in situ, or by "forming" powders into the desired shape, and then sintering to form a solid body. Ceramic forming techniques include shaping by hand (sometimes including a rotation process called "throwing"), slip casting, tape casting (used for making very thin ceramic capacitors), injection molding, dry pressing, and other variations.

Noncrystalline ceramics

Noncrystalline ceramics, being glass, tend to be formed from melts. The glass is shaped when either fully molten, by casting, or when in a state of toffee-like viscosity, by methods such as blowing into a mold. If later heat treatments cause this glass to become partly crystalline, the resulting material is known as a glass-ceramic, widely used as cook-tops and also as a glass composite material for nuclear waste disposal.


The physical properties of any ceramic substance are a direct result of its crystalline structure and chemical composition. Solid-state chemistry reveals the fundamental connection between microstructure and properties such as localized density variations, grain size distribution, type of porosity and second-phase content, which can all be correlated with ceramic properties such as mechanical strength σ by the Hall-Petch equation, hardness, toughness, dielectric constant, and the optical properties exhibited by transparent materials.

Ceramography is the art and science of preparation, examination and evaluation of ceramic microstructures. Evaluation and characterization of ceramic microstructures is often implemented on similar spatial scales to that used commonly in the emerging field of nanotechnology: from tens of angstroms (A) to tens of micrometers (µm). This is typically somewhere between the minimum wavelength of visible light and the resolution limit of the naked eye.

The microstructure includes most grains, secondary phases, grain boundaries, pores, micro-cracks, structural defects and hardness microindentions. Most bulk mechanical, optical, thermal, electrical and magnetic properties are significantly affected by the observed microstructure. The fabrication method and process conditions are generally indicated by the microstructure. The root cause of many ceramic failures is evident in the cleaved and polished microstructure. Physical properties which constitute the field of materials science and engineering include the following:

Mechanical properties

Cutting disks made of silicon carbide Ultra-thin separated (Carborundum) disk.jpg
Cutting disks made of silicon carbide
The Porsche Carrera GT's carbon-ceramic (silicon carbide) disc brake PCCB Brake Carrera GT.jpg
The Porsche Carrera GT's carbon-ceramic (silicon carbide) disc brake

Mechanical properties are important in structural and building materials as well as textile fabrics. In modern materials science, fracture mechanics is an important tool in improving the mechanical performance of materials and components. It applies the physics of stress and strain, in particular the theories of elasticity and plasticity, to the microscopic crystallographic defects found in real materials in order to predict the macroscopic mechanical failure of bodies. Fractography is widely used with fracture mechanics to understand the causes of failures and also verify the theoretical failure predictions with real life failures.

Ceramic materials are usually ionic or covalent bonded materials, and can be crystalline or amorphous. A material held together by either type of bond will tend to fracture before any plastic deformation takes place, which results in poor toughness in these materials. Additionally, because these materials tend to be porous, the pores and other microscopic imperfections act as stress concentrators, decreasing the toughness further, and reducing the tensile strength. These combine to give catastrophic failures, as opposed to the more ductile failure modes of metals.

These materials do show plastic deformation. However, because of the rigid structure of the crystalline materials, there are very few available slip systems for dislocations to move, and so they deform very slowly. With the non-crystalline (glassy) materials, viscous flow is the dominant source of plastic deformation, and is also very slow. It is therefore neglected in many applications of ceramic materials.

To overcome the brittle behaviour, ceramic material development has introduced the class of ceramic matrix composite materials, in which ceramic fibers are embedded and with specific coatings are forming fiber bridges across any crack. This mechanism substantially increases the fracture toughness of such ceramics. Ceramic disc brakes are an example of using a ceramic matrix composite material manufactured with a specific process.

Electrical properties


Some ceramics are semiconductors. Most of these are transition metal oxides that are II-VI semiconductors, such as zinc oxide.

While there are prospects of mass-producing blue LEDs from zinc oxide, ceramicists are most interested in the electrical properties that show grain boundary effects.

One of the most widely used of these is the varistor. These are devices that exhibit the property that resistance drops sharply at a certain threshold voltage. Once the voltage across the device reaches the threshold, there is a breakdown of the electrical structure in the vicinity of the grain boundaries, which results in its electrical resistance dropping from several megohms down to a few hundred ohms. The major advantage of these is that they can dissipate a lot of energy, and they self-reset – after the voltage across the device drops below the threshold, its resistance returns to being high.

This makes them ideal for surge-protection applications; as there is control over the threshold voltage and energy tolerance, they find use in all sorts of applications. The best demonstration of their ability can be found in electrical substations, where they are employed to protect the infrastructure from lightning strikes. They have rapid response, are low maintenance, and do not appreciably degrade from use, making them virtually ideal devices for this application.

Semiconducting ceramics are also employed as gas sensors. When various gases are passed over a polycrystalline ceramic, its electrical resistance changes. With tuning to the possible gas mixtures, very inexpensive devices can be produced.


The Meissner effect demonstrated by levitating a magnet above a cuprate superconductor, which is cooled by liquid nitrogen Magnet 4.jpg
The Meissner effect demonstrated by levitating a magnet above a cuprate superconductor, which is cooled by liquid nitrogen

Under some conditions, such as extremely low temperature, some ceramics exhibit high-temperature superconductivity. The reason for this is not understood, but there are two major families of superconducting ceramics.

Ferroelectricity and supersets

Piezoelectricity, a link between electrical and mechanical response, is exhibited by a large number of ceramic materials, including the quartz used to measure time in watches and other electronics. Such devices use both properties of piezoelectrics, using electricity to produce a mechanical motion (powering the device) and then using this mechanical motion to produce electricity (generating a signal). The unit of time measured is the natural interval required for electricity to be converted into mechanical energy and back again.

The piezoelectric effect is generally stronger in materials that also exhibit pyroelectricity, and all pyroelectric materials are also piezoelectric. These materials can be used to inter convert between thermal, mechanical, or electrical energy; for instance, after synthesis in a furnace, a pyroelectric crystal allowed to cool under no applied stress generally builds up a static charge of thousands of volts. Such materials are used in motion sensors, where the tiny rise in temperature from a warm body entering the room is enough to produce a measurable voltage in the crystal.

In turn, pyroelectricity is seen most strongly in materials which also display the ferroelectric effect, in which a stable electric dipole can be oriented or reversed by applying an electrostatic field. Pyroelectricity is also a necessary consequence of ferroelectricity. This can be used to store information in ferroelectric capacitors, elements of ferroelectric RAM.

The most common such materials are lead zirconate titanate and barium titanate. Aside from the uses mentioned above, their strong piezoelectric response is exploited in the design of high-frequency loudspeakers, transducers for sonar, and actuators for atomic force and scanning tunneling microscopes.

Positive thermal coefficient

Silicon nitride rocket thruster. Left: Mounted in test stand. Right: Being tested with H2/O2 propellants Si3N4thruster.jpg
Silicon nitride rocket thruster. Left: Mounted in test stand. Right: Being tested with H2/O2 propellants

Increases in temperature can cause grain boundaries to suddenly become insulating in some semiconducting ceramic materials, mostly mixtures of heavy metal titanates. The critical transition temperature can be adjusted over a wide range by variations in chemistry. In such materials, current will pass through the material until joule heating brings it to the transition temperature, at which point the circuit will be broken and current flow will cease. Such ceramics are used as self-controlled heating elements in, for example, the rear-window defrost circuits of automobiles.

At the transition temperature, the material's dielectric response becomes theoretically infinite. While a lack of temperature control would rule out any practical use of the material near its critical temperature, the dielectric effect remains exceptionally strong even at much higher temperatures. Titanates with critical temperatures far below room temperature have become synonymous with "ceramic" in the context of ceramic capacitors for just this reason.

Optical properties

Cermax xenon arc lamp with synthetic sapphire output window Cermax.jpg
Cermax xenon arc lamp with synthetic sapphire output window

Optically transparent materials focus on the response of a material to incoming lightwaves of a range of wavelengths. Frequency selective optical filters can be utilized to alter or enhance the brightness and contrast of a digital image. Guided lightwave transmission via frequency selective waveguides involves the emerging field of fiber optics and the ability of certain glassy compositions as a transmission medium for a range of frequencies simultaneously (multi-mode optical fiber) with little or no interference between competing wavelengths or frequencies. This resonant mode of energy and data transmission via electromagnetic (light) wave propagation, though low powered, is virtually lossless. Optical waveguides are used as components in Integrated optical circuits (e.g. light-emitting diodes, LEDs) or as the transmission medium in local and long haul optical communication systems. Also of value to the emerging materials scientist is the sensitivity of materials to radiation in the thermal infrared (IR) portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. This heat-seeking ability is responsible for such diverse optical phenomena as Night-vision and IR luminescence.

Thus, there is an increasing need in the military sector for high-strength, robust materials which have the capability to transmit light (electromagnetic waves) in the visible (0.4 – 0.7 micrometers) and mid-infrared (1 – 5 micrometers) regions of the spectrum. These materials are needed for applications requiring transparent armor, including next-generation high-speed missiles and pods, as well as protection against improvised explosive devices (IED).

In the 1960s, scientists at General Electric (GE) discovered that under the right manufacturing conditions, some ceramics, especially aluminium oxide (alumina), could be made translucent. These translucent materials were transparent enough to be used for containing the electrical plasma generated in high-pressure sodium street lamps. During the past two decades, additional types of transparent ceramics have been developed for applications such as nose cones for heat-seeking missiles, windows for fighter aircraft, and scintillation counters for computed tomography scanners.

In the early 1970s, Thomas Soules pioneered computer modeling of light transmission through translucent ceramic alumina. His model showed that microscopic pores in ceramic, mainly trapped at the junctions of microcrystalline grains, caused light to scatter and prevented true transparency. The volume fraction of these microscopic pores had to be less than 1% for high-quality optical transmission.

This is basically a particle size effect. Opacity results from the incoherent scattering of light at surfaces and interfaces. In addition to pores, most of the interfaces in a typical metal or ceramic object are in the form of grain boundaries which separate tiny regions of crystalline order. When the size of the scattering center (or grain boundary) is reduced below the size of the wavelength of the light being scattered, the scattering no longer occurs to any significant extent.

In the formation of polycrystalline materials (metals and ceramics) the size of the crystalline grains is determined largely by the size of the crystalline particles present in the raw material during formation (or pressing) of the object. Moreover, the size of the grain boundaries scales directly with particle size. Thus a reduction of the original particle size below the wavelength of visible light (~ 0.5 micrometers for shortwave violet) eliminates any light scattering, resulting in a transparent material.

Recently[ when? ], Japanese scientists have developed techniques to produce ceramic parts that rival the transparency of traditional crystals (grown from a single seed) and exceed the fracture toughness of a single crystal.[ citation needed ] In particular, scientists at the Japanese firm Konoshima Ltd., a producer of ceramic construction materials and industrial chemicals, have been looking for markets for their transparent ceramics.

Livermore researchers realized that these ceramics might greatly benefit high-powered lasers used in the National Ignition Facility (NIF) Programs Directorate. In particular, a Livermore research team began to acquire advanced transparent ceramics from Konoshima to determine if they could meet the optical requirements needed for Livermore’s Solid-State Heat Capacity Laser (SSHCL).[ citation needed ] Livermore researchers have also been testing applications of these materials for applications such as advanced drivers for laser-driven fusion power plants.


Porcelain high-voltage insulator Insulator.jpg
Porcelain high-voltage insulator
Silicon carbide is used for inner plates of ballistic vests Bodyarmor.jpg
Silicon carbide is used for inner plates of ballistic vests
Ceramic BN crucible BNcrucible.jpg
Ceramic BN crucible

A composite material of ceramic and metal is known as cermet.

Other ceramic materials, generally requiring greater purity in their make-up than those above, include forms of several chemical compounds, including:

Kitchen knife with a ceramic blade CeramicKnife1.jpg
Kitchen knife with a ceramic blade


By usage

For convenience, ceramic products are usually divided into four main types; these are shown below with some examples:

Ceramics made with clay

Frequently, the raw materials of modern ceramics do not include clays. [11] Those that do are classified as follows:


Ceramics can also be classified into three distinct material categories:

Each one of these classes can be developed into unique material properties because ceramics tend to be crystalline.



Ceramic artifacts have an important role in archaeology for understanding the culture, technology and behavior of peoples of the past. They are among the most common artifacts to be found at an archaeological site, generally in the form of small fragments of broken pottery called sherds. Processing of collected sherds can be consistent with two main types of analysis: technical and traditional.

Traditional analysis involves sorting ceramic artifacts, sherds and larger fragments into specific types based on style, composition, manufacturing and morphology. By creating these typologies it is possible to distinguish between different cultural styles, the purpose of the ceramic and technological state of the people among other conclusions. In addition, by looking at stylistic changes of ceramics over time is it possible to separate (seriate) the ceramics into distinct diagnostic groups (assemblages). A comparison of ceramic artifacts with known dated assemblages allows for a chronological assignment of these pieces. [14]

The technical approach to ceramic analysis involves a finer examination of the composition of ceramic artifacts and sherds to determine the source of the material and through this the possible manufacturing site. Key criteria are the composition of the clay and the temper used in the manufacture of the article under study: temper is a material added to the clay during the initial production stage, and it is used to aid the subsequent drying process. Types of temper include shell pieces, granite fragments and ground sherd pieces called 'grog'. Temper is usually identified by microscopic examination of the temper material. Clay identification is determined by a process of refiring the ceramic, and assigning a color to it using Munsell Soil Color notation. By estimating both the clay and temper compositions, and locating a region where both are known to occur, an assignment of the material source can be made. From the source assignment of the artifact further investigations can be made into the site of manufacture.

History of ceramics

See also

Related Research Articles

Materials science interdisciplinary field which deals with the discovery and design of new materials; primarily concerned with the physical and chemical properties of solids

The interdisciplinary field of materials science, also commonly termed materials science and engineering is the design and discovery of new materials, particularly solids. The intellectual origins of materials science stem from the Enlightenment, when researchers began to use analytical thinking from chemistry, physics, and engineering to understand ancient, phenomenological observations in metallurgy and mineralogy. Materials science still incorporates elements of physics, chemistry, and engineering. As such, the field was long considered by academic institutions as a sub-field of these related fields. Beginning in the 1940s, materials science began to be more widely recognized as a specific and distinct field of science and engineering, and major technical universities around the world created dedicated schools of the study, within either the Science or Engineering schools, hence the naming.

Piezoelectricity the electric charge that accumulates in certain solid materials in response to applied mechanical stress

Piezoelectricity is the electric charge that accumulates in certain solid materials in response to applied mechanical stress. The word piezoelectricity means electricity resulting from pressure and latent heat. It is derived from the Greek word πιέζειν; piezein, which means to squeeze or press, and ἤλεκτρον ēlektron, which means amber, an ancient source of electric charge. French physicists Jacques and Pierre Curie discovered piezoelectricity in 1880.

Zirconium dioxide chemical compound

Zirconium dioxide, sometimes known as zirconia, is a white crystalline oxide of zirconium. Its most naturally occurring form, with a monoclinic crystalline structure, is the mineral baddeleyite. A dopant stabilized cubic structured zirconia, cubic zirconia, is synthesized in various colours for use as a gemstone and a diamond simulant.

Polyvinylidene fluoride polymer

Polyvinylidene fluoride or polyvinylidene difluoride (PVDF) is a highly non-reactive thermoplastic fluoropolymer produced by the polymerization of vinylidene difluoride.

A cermet is a composite material composed of ceramic (cer) and metal (met) materials.

Transparent ceramics

Many ceramic materials, both glassy and crystalline, have found use as optically transparent materials in various forms from bulk solid-state components to high surface area forms such as thin films, coatings, and fibers. Such devices have found widespread use for various applications in the electro-optical field including: optical fibers for guided lightwave transmission, optical switches, laser amplifiers and lenses, hosts for solid-state lasers and optical window materials for gas lasers, and infrared (IR) heat seeking devices for missile guidance systems and IR night vision.

Lead zirconate titanate intermetallic inorganic chemical compound

Lead zirconate titanate is an inorganic compound with the chemical formula Pb[ZrxTi1−x]O3 (0≤x≤1). Also called PZT, it is a ceramic perovskite material that shows a marked piezoelectric effect, meaning that the compound changes shape when an electric field is applied. It is used in a number of practical applications such as ultrasonic transducers and piezoelectric resonators. It is a white to off-white solid.

Heating element converts electricity into heat through the process of resistive or Joule heating (electric current passing through the element encounters resistance, resulting in heating of the element; this process is independent of the direction of current flow)

A heating element converts electrical energy into heat through the process of Joule heating. Electric current passing through the element encounters resistance, resulting in heating of the element. Unlike the Peltier effect, this process is independent of the direction of current flow.

Electroceramics is a class of ceramic materials used primarily for their electrical properties.

Barium titanate chemical compound

Barium titanate is an inorganic compound with chemical formula BaTiO3. Barium titanate appears white as a powder and is transparent when prepared as large crystals. It is a ferroelectric ceramic material that exhibits the photorefractive effect and piezoelectric properties. It is used in capacitors, electromechanical transducers and nonlinear optics.

Piezoelectric sensor

A piezoelectric sensor is a device that uses the piezoelectric effect, to measure changes in pressure, acceleration, temperature, strain, or force by converting them to an electrical charge. The prefix piezo- is Greek for 'press' or 'squeeze'.

Ceramic engineering Ceramic materials, which have been optimized in their properties for technical applications

Ceramic engineering is the science and technology of creating objects from inorganic, non-metallic materials. This is done either by the action of heat, or at lower temperatures using precipitation reactions from high-purity chemical solutions. The term includes the purification of raw materials, the study and production of the chemical compounds concerned, their formation into components and the study of their structure, composition and properties.

Piezoelectric accelerometer

A piezoelectric accelerometer is an accelerometer that employs the piezoelectric effect of certain materials to measure dynamic changes in mechanical variables.

Ultrasonic machining

Ultrasonic machining, or strictly speaking the "Ultrasonic vibration machining", is a subtraction manufacturing process that removes material from the surface of a part through high frequency, low amplitude vibrations of a tool against the material surface in the presence of fine abrasive particles. The tool travels vertically or orthogonal to the surface of the part at amplitudes of 0.05 to 0.125 mm. The fine abrasive grains are mixed with water to form a slurry that is distributed across the part and the tip of the tool. Typical grain sizes of the abrasive material range from 100 to 1000, where smaller grains produce smoother surface finishes.

Nanoceramic is a type of nanoparticle that is composed of ceramics, which are generally classified as inorganic, heat-resistant, nonmetallic solids made of both metallic and nonmetallic compounds. The material offers unique properties. Macroscale ceramics are brittle and rigid and break upon impact. However, nanoceramics take on a larger variety of functions, including dielectric, ferroelectric, piezoelectric, pyroelectric, ferromagnetic, magnetoresistive, superconductive and electro-optical.

Ultra-high-temperature ceramics (UHTCs) are a class of refractory ceramics that offer excellent stability at temperatures exceeding 2000 °C being investigated as possible thermal protection system (TPS) materials, coatings for materials subjected to high temperatures, and bulk materials for heating elements. Broadly speaking, UHTCs are borides, carbides, nitrides, and oxides of early transition metals. Current efforts have focused on heavy, early transition metal borides such as hafnium diboride (HfB2) and zirconium diboride (ZrB2); additional UHTCs under investigation for TPS applications include hafnium nitride (HfN), zirconium nitride (ZrN), titanium carbide (TiC), titanium nitride (TiN), thorium dioxide (ThO2), tantalum carbide (TaC) and their associated composites.

LSAT is the most common name for the inorganic compound lanthanum aluminate - strontium aluminium tantalate, which has the chemical formula (LaAlO3)0.3(Sr2TaAlO6)0.7 or its less common alternative: (La0.18Sr0.82)(Al0.59Ta0.41)O3. LSAT is a hard, optically transparent ceramic oxide of the elements lanthanum, aluminum, strontium and tantalum. LSAT has the perovskite crystal structure, and its most common use is as a single crystal substrate for the growth of epitaxial thin films.

A complex oxide is a chemical compound that contains oxygen and at least two other elements. Complex oxide materials are notable for their wide range of magnetic and electronic properties, such as ferromagnetism, ferroelectricity, and high-temperature superconductivity. These properties often come from their strongly correlated electrons in d or f orbitals.


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Further reading