Ceramics encompass such a vast array of materials that a concise definition is almost impossible. However, one workable definition of ceramics is a refractory, inorganic, and nonmetallic material. Ceramics can be divided into two classes: traditional and advanced. Traditional ceramics include clay products, silicate glass and cement; while advanced ceramics consist of carbides (SiC), pure oxides (Al2O3), nitrides (Si3N4), non-silicate glasses and many others. Ceramics offer many advantages compared to other materials. They are harder and stiffer than steel; more heat and corrosion resistant than metals or polymers; less dense than most metals and their alloys; and their raw materials are both plentiful and inexpensive. Ceramic materials display a wide range of properties which facilitate their use in many different product areas.
|Aerospace||space shuttle tiles, thermal barriers, high temperature glass windows, fuel cells|
|Consumer Uses||glassware, windows, pottery, Corning¨ ware, magnets, dinnerware, ceramic tiles, lenses, home electronics, microwave transducers|
|Automotive||catalytic converters, ceramic filters, airbag sensors, ceramic rotors, valves, spark plugs, pressure sensors, thermistors, vibration sensors, oxygen sensors, safety glass windshields, piston rings|
|Medical (Bioceramics)||orthopedic joint replacement, prosthesis, dental restoration, bone implants|
|Military||structural components for ground, air and naval vehicles, missiles, sensors|
|Computers||insulators, resistors, superconductors, capacitors, ferroelectric components, microelectronic packaging|
|Other Industries||bricks, cement, membranes and filters, lab equipment|
|Communications||fiber optic/laser communications, TV and radio components, microphones|
Humans have found applications for ceramics for the past 30,000 years; every day new and different applications are being discovered. This truly makes ceramics a stone age material, with space age qualities.