A second ceramic age—A new materials frontier
A second ceramic age started in the mid-twentieth century as a new, exciting materials frontier. Electroceramics with phenomenally wide range of electrical resistivity (spread over 30 orders of magnitude) span insulators, semiconductors, metal-like conductors, ionic conductors, and, recently, superconductors. They also include ferroelectrics, piezoelectrics, pyroelectrics and electro-optics beside ferrites. Advances in electroceramics have been fascinating and rapid, leading to unprecedented rates of industrial growth. Age-old limitations of poor mechanical strength and brittleness of ceramics are being overcome by outstanding toughness and strength achieved in zirconiabased ceramics exploiting the martensitic transformation at the tetragonal-monoclinic phase change. The dimensional changes at this transition which prevented the use of zirconia earlier has now been turned into a mechanism for toughening ceramics to significant levels. Ceramics with near-zero overall thermal expansion coefficient offer new opportunities to science and industry.
Volume 43, 2020
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