TLDR: Ceramics are hard, heat-resistant materials made by shaping and firing nonmetallic substances like clay at high temperatures. They can be used for things like pottery, porcelain, bricks, and even advanced engineering materials.
Ceramics are a type of material that is made by shaping and then firing an inorganic, nonmetallic substance, like clay, at a high temperature. They are known for being hard, brittle, and resistant to heat and corrosion. Some common examples of ceramics are earthenware, porcelain, and bricks.
The earliest ceramics made by humans were pottery objects and figurines made from clay. Over time, ceramics became more advanced, with the introduction of glazing techniques that created smooth, colored surfaces. Ceramics are now used in a wide range of products, from domestic items to industrial and building materials. They are also used in advanced ceramic engineering, such as in semiconductors.
The word "ceramic" comes from the Ancient Greek word "keramikos," which means "of or for pottery." Ceramics can be used as an adjective to describe a material, product, or process, or as a noun to refer to the group of materials as a whole.
Ceramic materials have a wide range of properties. They are generally hard, strong in compression, and weak in tension. They can withstand high temperatures and are resistant to chemical erosion. Ceramics can be either vitrified or semi-vitrified, meaning they have varying degrees of crystallinity and electron composition. They are often good thermal and electrical insulators.
Ceramics can be classified into different categories based on their composition. Some common types include oxides (like alumina and zirconia), non-oxides (like carbide and nitride), and composite materials (which combine oxides and non-oxides).
Ceramics have a wide range of applications. They are used in structural materials like bricks and pipes, refractories like kiln linings, and whitewares like tableware and pottery. They are also used in advanced engineering applications, such as ballistic protection, nuclear fuel, and biomedical implants. Ceramics can even be used in optical applications, like transparent armor and scintillation counters.
In summary, ceramics are hard, heat-resistant materials made by shaping and firing nonmetallic substances at high temperatures. They have a wide range of properties and applications, from pottery and tableware to advanced engineering materials.