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Lecture 2 Ceramics: II

Ceramics which were traditionally being used for pottery and clay products only, these days are
finding application in electronics, aerospace, bio-applications etc. The application spectrum of
ceramics has increased because ceramics possesses specific properties such as corrosion
resistance, wear resistance, high hardness, low density etc. The classification of ceramics based
on the application is as follows:

(i) Glasses
Glasses are based on Silicate (SiO2) along with other additives to shrink the melting point and to
impart special characteristic properties.
Glasses are mainly used in the manufacturing of the following products;
(a) containers
(b) households
(c) optical glasses etc.

(ii) High performance advanced ceramics

These are basically special ceramics having outstanding measures in terms of toughness, wear
resistance, electrical properties, etc. Its applicative demand has rose to a larger extent in the last
decade and finds its need in cutting tool, grinding, bearing, sensor, laser, superconductor etc.

(iii) Traditional vitreous ceramics

All the clay-based products within ceramics come under this category. Applications are easily
noticeable in porcelain, sanitary ware, tiles, bricks, refractories etc.

(iv) Cement and concrete

Cement and concrete ceramics are basically multiphase materials that is these materials exist in
more than one phase.
(v) Natural ceramics
Natural ceramics include rocks, minerals, ores that are extracted from the earth and are produced
by the laws of nature. Bones also come under natural ceramics.

Crystal Structure of Ceramics

Because ceramics are composed of at least two elements, and often more, their crystal structures
are generally more complex than those for metals. The atomic bonding in these materials ranges
from purely ionic to totally covalent. Generally, ceramics exhibit a combination of these two
bonding types, the degree of ionic character being dependent on the electro negativities of the
atoms. The bonding of atoms together is much stronger in covalent and ionic bonding than in
metallic. The strength of the ionic bond depends on the charge on each ion and the radius of each
ion. There exists a combination of stronger ionic and covalent bonds.

Properties of Ceramic materials

The properties of the materials depend upon the types of atoms present, the types of bonding
between the atoms and the way the atoms are packed together. A wide range of properties of
ceramics can be obtained due to the variation in crystal structure of ceramics. The crystal
structure of ceramics is relatively more complex than metals. Depending upon the bonding, there
exits different types of properties in ceramics. Type of Bonding in Ceramics leads to:
- high melting point
- low thermal expansion
- high elastic modulus
- high hardness
- good chemical resistance
- brittleness

Figure 1 shows the summary of properties of ceramics before moving towards the processing
aspects of ceramics. These are not only the advantages or disadvantages but shows overall
properties of ceramics.

Figure 1 Properties of ceramics materials

Strength of ceramics
Ceramic materials possess wide variety of properties which make them upcoming and promising
materials. Strength of the ceramics is one of the governing properties for selecting specific
application area. Strength of ceramics mainly depends upon the following points:

Smaller the particle size, the higher is the strength of ceramic

Dense microstructure enhances strength

An increased toughness leads to enhancement in resistance to fracture

High particle aspect ratio may be useful in enhancing toughness

Electrical properties of ceramics


Electrical conductivity of most of ceramics is low. Therefore, ceramics are used

for electrical insulations.


Electrical conductivity depends on applied field

Some ceramics show semiconducting properties

Ceramic also show temperature dependent superconducting properties

Typical applications of ceramics

Pottery, floor and roof tiles, bricks, cookware, sanitary ware

High temperature applications such as lining material in furnaces, crucibles

Bullet proof armor, hard coatings, bio-medical implants, ball bearings, watch

making etc.