A peek into the world of Ceramics

Posted by on Mar 30, 2015 in Spirit of Pottery | Comments Off on A peek into the world of Ceramics

A peek into the world of Ceramics

I had recently been on a vacation with my friends. We had a great time, especially the kayaking we did. One of my friends owns a cabin by a lake. We all went kayaking and even had a race, which was exciting and all of us, had great fun.

The kayak we used was exceptionally designed and of good quality, so we could enjoy the race better.  In the evenings, we would sit by the cabin, set up a campfire and talk about all kinds of things. It was during one of these talks that the topic of ceramics came up.

One of my friends wanted to pick up a ceramic gift for his girlfriend. She loved all things ceramic. He wanted to know how ceramic had developed over the centuries to the present state.

Particularly he wanted to know why when the civilizations of the past were named after the materials, which dominated that period like Stone Age or Bronze Age, there never has been a ceramic age. This is because all these civilizations used ceramic prevalently and it cannot be contained to only one particular period.

In fact, I mentioned that there is evidence of ceramic use as back as 24,000 BCE. And today these ceramics are used in silicon chips, catalytic converters and other important things we use in our daily routine.  Therefore, ceramic age encompasses all of human civilization, which shows the significance it has in the modern era.

Ceramics

The pottery and articles made from firing clay were given the name ceramics earlier. However, at present the term has a wider definition. At present ceramics are non-metallic or inorganic solids that characterize useful properties including strength, hardness, and high melting point and have good thermal and electrical insulation.

Ceramic materials include pottery, brick, glass, cement and porcelain. While these are the popularly known ceramics, the name actually covers wider range of materials that have inorganic solid and are non-metallic.

Various ceramic materials

Diamond and graphite are types of ceramics that have a crystalline arrangement that differ from the basic carbon element they have. You also have complex crystals of oxygen, copper, barium and yttrium, which form advanced ceramics that are used as superconductors or materials with no electrical resistance.

While these two are, the extreme ends of the ceramic material scale there are others, which fall in between including crystalline compounds, metal oxides, carbides, nitrides, silicide, etc. And the advanced ceramics which we use now are formed from a combination of ceramics with other materials called as CMCs (Ceramic Matrix Composites)

Ceramic properties

Ceramics are brittle solids suited to withstand high temperatures. This is only one of the various properties that ceramics are endowed with. The others include electrical resistance, brittleness, durability, strength, thermal resistance and withstand effects of acids, chemicals and oxygen. But all ceramics do not have all of these properties.

For instance, graphite conducts electricity but is  a soft ceramic. Diamond on the other hand is a good heat conductor. Ferrites are a type of ceramic material that conducts electricity. Superconductors do not have any electrical resistance. And the composite ceramic matrix used by embedding strengthened fibres in the ceramic does not have any brittleness.

My friend who had all the while related ceramic to pottery only, was stunned at the various facets of the material. He was happy that he had brought it up. The vacation was truly relaxing and rejuvenating for all of us, especially the fun time we had in the kayaks, check out this site for more info, which also gave us some rigorous cardio activity to indulge in during the vacation.