Ceramics: What is Ceramic, Classification, Examples

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 25th, 2023

The first types of Ceramics made by humans were pottery objects (pots or vessels) or figurines made from clay, either alone or in combination with other materials such as silica, hardened and sintered in the fire. Later, types of ceramics were glazed and fired to create smooth, coloured surfaces, reducing porosity by layering glassy, amorphous ceramic coatings on top of crystalline ceramic substrates. Various types of ceramics now include various materials developed for use in advanced ceramic engineering, such as semiconductors and domestic, industrial, and building products.

A Ceramic is any of the hard, brittle, heat-resistant, and corrosion-resistant materials created by shaping and firing an inorganic, nonmetallic material, such as clay, at a high temperature. Today, the term “ceramic” refers to a wider range of materials, including glass, advanced ceramics, and some cement-based systems. Here, we will define ceramics in detail and their types, advantages and applications.

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What is Ceramics?

Traditional ceramics include materials like glass, refractories, abrasives, and enamels. Some of them are metal oxides, carbides, borides, nitrides, and silicates. Tungsten carbide, Silicon carbide, Beryllia, Zirconia, Alumina, and magnesium are a few of their examples. Ionic atomic bonding typically exists between them.

Ceramics Definition

The name ceramics comes from the Greek word potter’s clay, Keramos. But today, many substances that are categorized as ceramics don’t even include clay. Compounds of metals and non-metals are what modern ceramics are defined as.

Although different types of ceramics have very different properties, such as corrosion-resistant, hard, and brittle. The majority of ceramics are also excellent insulators and can withstand high temperatures. Because of these properties, they are used in almost every aspect of modern life. Ceramic materials can be found as single crystals or as polycrystalline materials (polycrystals). These polycrystals are oriented more or less randomly with respect to one another. They are also known as grains. When the composition of the grains varies, the ceramic material is multiphase. The grains in monolithic material are all of the same phases.

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Types of Ceramics

There are different material categories into which ceramics can be divided. Ceramics are mainly divided into two categories:

  • Traditional
  • Advanced

These categories can all be evolved into distinctive material features. Let us see each of these categories in detail.

Traditional Ceramics

Objects made of clay and cement hardened by high-temperature heating are examples of traditional ceramics. Dishes, crockery, flowerpots, and roof and wall tiles are all made from traditional ceramics. Earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain pottery are the types of pottery displayed here.

  • Structure clay product
  • Whitewares

Advanced Ceramics

Carbides, such as silicon carbide, SiC; oxides, such as aluminium oxide, Al2O3; nitrides, such as silicon nitride, Si3N4; and many other materials, including mixed oxide ceramics that can act as superconductors, are examples of advanced ceramics. Modern processing techniques are required for advanced ceramics, and developing these techniques has led to advances in medicine and engineering. There are two types of advanced ceramics:

  • Non-silicate oxide ceramics
  • Non-oxide ceramics

Semiconductors are a type of ceramic; they are covalently bonded solids that include, in addition to the well-known Si and Ge, GaAs, CdTe …etc. Outside of electronic materials, other semiconductors include SiC, TiO2, ZnO, and others. Atoms in solids, in general, and ceramics in particular, will be arranged in long-range order, short-range order, or a combination of both. Solids with long-range order are known as crystalline solids, while those without that periodicity are known as amorphous, glassy, or noncrystalline solids.

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Advantages of Ceramics

There are numerous materials available to create a wide range of items. Every substance, from glass to metal, has advantages. Here, we’ll list a few significant benefits of working with ceramic materials and using final ceramic products:

  • Because they have high hardness, they are commonly used as abrasive powder and cutting tools.
  • Because of their high melting point, they are excellent refractory materials.
  • They are also good thermal insulators, which is why they are used as a refractory material.
  • They have high electric resistivity, making them suitable for use as an insulator.
  • Due to their low mass density, they produce lightweight components.
  • They are generally chemically inert, making them long-lasting.

Disadvantages of Ceramics

Ceramic materials have a lot of high installation and transportation requirements, and their main drawback is fragility. It is easy for them to break when hard objects strike ceramic art. The following drawbacks are listed below:

  • They have a brittle nature.
  • They have a low degree of ductility.
  • Their tensile strength is low.
  • Even for identical specimens, there is a wide range of variation in strength.
  • They are challenging to shape and machine.

Applications of Ceramics

Ceramics are harder, non-combustible, and inert than metals and plastics. As a result, they are suitable for use in high temperature, corrosive, and tribological applications.

  • Because of their lightweight, they are used in the space industry.
  • They serve as cutting instruments.
  • They serve as refractory substances.
  • As electrical insulators and thermal insulators, they are utilized.
  • Photoelectrochemical devices or cells PEC are solar cells that produce electrical energy or hydrogen through a process similar to water electrolysis.
Important Topics for Gate Exam
Internal and External Forces Lami’s theorem
Psychrometry Composite Material
Types of Patterns Gear Design
Admixtures System of Forces
Principle of Virtual Work Metal Casting
Sand Casting Heat Treatment Process


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