Ceramic Materials

Technical Applications


Ceramics are polycrystalline non-metallic materials. These materials are used in pure form as well as in the form of ceramic matrix composites.


The problem with ceramics is their brittleness, cost, and difficulty of manufacture. The high brittleness makes ceramic parts extremely prone to impact damage, usually resulting in catastrophic failure. Brittleness might be overcome by using ceramic matrix composites or by new superplastic ceramic technology. The ability of ceramics to be molded allows for the creation of specialized shapes, and the reinforcement of ceramics with composites creates materials of great toughness.


Ceramics contribute to job creation and economic growth in several ways. Their lower heat conduction helps engine efficiency, particularly for diesels, while ceramic coatings reduce friction between automobile engine parts, making automobiles more productive in world markets. In addition, to contributing to efficiency in production, ceramics contribute to improved environmental quality by improving fuel economy and reducing emissions. By reducing friction between parts and lowering the need for lubricants, ceramics also contribute the U.S. national security by reducing the need for logistical support, and thereby improving U.S. global power projection capabilities and effectiveness of warfighting in unconventional conflicts.


The major area of Japanese materials strength is in ceramics. Japan currently ranks first in the world in applying monolithic ceramic components such as turbocharger rotors to automotive engines. Japan's lead in ceramics is directly attributable to a focus on monolithic ceramics, whereas other countries, such as the United States, have allocated more resources to developing ceramic composites for comparable structural applications.