Materials Science and Engineering: Ceramics
A ceramic is a material that is neither metallic nor organic. It may be crystalline, glassy or both crystalline and glassy. Ceramics are typically hard and chemically non-reactive and can be formed or densified with heat. Ceramics are more than pottery and dishes: clay, bricks, tiles, glass, and cement are probably the best-known examples. Ceramic materials are used in electronics because, depending on their composition, they may be semiconducting, superconducting, ferroelectric, or an insulator. Ceramics are also used to make objects as diverse as spark plugs, fiber optics, artificial joints, space shuttle tiles, cooktops, race car brakes, micropositioners, chemical sensors, self lubricating bearings, body armor, and skis.
How is MSE@UMD Working with Ceramics?
- From Digs to Dentistry: Mey Saied, an alumna of the MSE graduate program, used her expertise in ceramics to make better dental crowns while a student here at Maryland. She's also used MSE to study ancient pottery! More »
- Reducing Our Lead Footprint: MSE professor Ichiro Takeuchi and his research group have discovered a ceramic replacement for a lead-based product used in products ranging from bioemedical imaging devices to inket printers to airbag sensors. More »
Watch a materials video demonstration about ceramics:
Superconductors and Levitation
A superconductor is a material that has no electrical resistance to current flow. A "high" temperature superconductor exhibits this property at liquid nitrogen temperatures (-321°F /-196°C). An important property of superconducting materials is the ability to repel magnetic fields. Placing a magnet above a superconductor will cause the magnet to levitate. Maglev trains make use of this phenomenon, as they are lifted and propelled forward by a magnetic field, free of friction. We can see this effect by placing a magnet atop a superconductor resting in liquid nitrogen.
For more information online:
- The American Ceramic Society: About Ceramics »
- Weird, Weird Science: Zoom Into Concrete
John Sizemore offers movies on a variety of topics on his Dailymotion site. His "Zoom Into..." series of videos about materials includes Zoom Into Concrete.