Ceramics is any of the many hard, breakable, fire-resistance and slip-resistant materials created by shaping and heating a metallized nonmetallized mineral, like clay, into an undulating form. Common examples are ceramic tiles, vases, bowls, platters, vases, figurines, tiles, china, dishes, ceramic lamps, ceramic figurines, bowls, ceramic vases, and bowls. Ceramic is also used in the production of glass items such as drinking glasses, ceramic chess sets, musical instruments, cookware, candle holders, and figurines.
The earliest ceramic materials were found in the tombs of ancient Egyptian royal funerary sites. During the last few thousand years, ceramics had been manufactured on a large scale. At the beginning of the industrial era in 18th century, the first true ceramic was made. Invented by the French, glazing and the science of cooling and heating, ceramics have taken different forms throughout the centuries. Some of the most common ceramic materials found today are glazed and fired (also called fused or fired) pottery, vases, bowls, figurines, tiles, glass, dishes, pottery, china and glass.
Ceramic materials can be divided into two major groups: those which are glazed and those that are fired. Glass and pottery, although both ceramic materials, are considered glazed because of the chemical reactions that result in the transformation of simple oxides (such as lead, silica, boron, and calcium) to opaque metallic salts (such as copper, iron, cobalt, zinc, or titanium). Glass is one of the most transparent ceramics because the transformation does not leave a visible residue on the surface. Pottery, on the other hand, is not glazed but contains oxides that are changed to other materials through chemical reactions.
Ceramic materials come in three basic varieties: clay (sometimes called slag), fired clay, and earthenware. Clay materials are the original foundation of all ceramics, and are found mainly in fired ceramic tile forms. Fired clay has lower chemical reactions than do the other varieties of clay. The earthenware variety of ceramic is processed to make the glaze-like products we use today. While clay and earthenware pottery vary greatly in terms of color, glaze thickness, hardness (e.g., porcelain or marble) and construction, each of these three basic types of ceramics have a common basic medium.
Clay ceramics are most commonly thought of as white or light gray in color. While clay materials may contain a variety of shades from light gray to pale brown depending on mineral pigments, typically, clay pottery and tile are white to yellow in color. The word “clay” comes from the Greek word kerasa, which means “hardness of clay.” Clay is composed of silica, sulfur, magnesium, boron, calcium, manganese, zinc, iron, boron, silicon, phosphorus, sodium, carbon, manganese, and sometimes other elements. These chemicals interact with water to form clays that are incredibly hard and strong, and durable to a certain degree.
Generally, ceramic materials are fired at temperatures exceeding 500 deg F inside a kiln. This high temperature promotes the evolution of “slackening,” which results in the loss of the fine, even lines usually found on pottery tiles and other ceramic goods. When glazed ceramic materials are laid down on a workbench, they take on a whitish hue because glaze salts diffuse and gradually settle on the surface of the work surface, leaving behind tiny lines of white. Because the firing process destroys some of these fine lines and surfaces of glazed ceramics, the colors may not be as deeply colored as you would like. But as long as you like the product’s original shade, you’re free to have it altered, as long as you take care to apply only the recommended amounts of coloring and finishing substances.
Ceramic materials are excellent insulators, but this quality is also useful in creating superconductor articles. In the context of making superconductors, a ceramic material has an electrical charge that allows it to be used in electronics. The electrical charges of the different chemical elements combine to give electric fields that are aligned in a way that creates a strong bonding with other nearby objects. This makes ceramics good conductors, which is why they are frequently used in electronics.
Although ceramics are good conductors, they are also versatile materials that can be molded into all kinds of interesting shapes. Ceramics can be made into all kinds of decorative dishes, vessels, bowls, figurines, etc., as well as molded into furniture, pots and pans, statues, etc. Another characteristic that makes ceramics so attractive is their non-stick quality, which makes them easy to clean. And because of their superlative appearance, and due to the fact that they don’t require too much energy to heat up or cool down, ceramic materials make very efficient superconductors, making them highly desirable and practical for modern uses, such as in cookware.