Meet Ceramics

You must have noticed a set of smooth plates, cups and bowls at home that your mother keeps safely. She must have even told you to be careful while using it. Chances are there that these pieces of crockery are made of ceramic.

Ceramics are heat-resistant inorganic non-metal compounds. These compounds are hard and brittle, making it useful for different purposes.

The first ceramics was used to make pottery. Today, crockery and flowerpots are made from this. Those shiny, smooth expensive tea cups and decorative flower vases you see are mostly made from ceramics. They were made by mixing clay and cements and hardening it by heating it to a high temperature.

Ceramic is used to make roof and wall tiles as well. Yes, those sparkling tiles in your bathroom are most likely ceramic tiles.

How are they made?
Ceramic is made from natural materials like clay. Heating this clay to a high temperature results in strong chemical bonds being formed among the flakes of clay. The heat drives out any water present in the clay, which makes the clay hard.

Then a binder like bone ash is added to give more strength to the ceramic produced. The colour of the clay used gives the unique colour to the ceramic that is made. Porcelain and Bone China are two popular Chinese ceramics known around the world. Bone China contains 50% of bone ash and is a little more brittle than Porcelain. And that’s why you mother warned you to be careful with ceramic crockery.

Ceramics can consist of two or more elements. Complex compositions of ceramic include feldspar, a ceramic mineral used in graphite. It is made by mixing clay and cements and hardening it by heating it to a high temperature

Advanced ceramics
Today advanced ceramics are available. These are ceramics that include silicon carbide (the CAS number is 409-21-2 and its formula is CSi)and tungsten carbide. These ceramics are not only tough and flexible, but have high resistances to scratches and corrosion. That’s why they find applications in sports bicycles, tennis racquets and automobiles.

Ceramics today have become part of everyday life. From creating artificial bones and crowned teeth to ceramic knives and ceramic ball-bearings, they are used for a variety of purposes.