The History Of Ceramics
Ceramics are one of the earliest known manmade materials. A ceramics is any of the many hard, lightweight, heat-resistant and stain-resistant materials made through shaping and firing an inorganic material, like clay, into a powder. Common examples are ceramics, pottery, marble and granite. Today ceramics are still used in architecture, interior design, flooring, furniture and even fireplaces.
Ceramics have occupied a key position in all human history. They are formed of either inorganic or non-inorganic materials such as stones, rocks, metal oxides, salt, coal, bone, ivory, wood and even shells. Early man was adept at combining clay and rock to form into complex articles of daily use, and he was also capable of creating vessels, pots, figurines and even houses out of glazed earthen material.
The science of ceramics has come a long way since the beginning of mankind’s existence. Modern ceramic materials, including ceramics, consist of several inorganic crystalline constituents which can be combined with organic and inorganic crystalline constituents to create a wide range of textures, colors, finishes and chemical compositions. Ceramics are formed using numerous physical and chemical reactions. For example, when clay is heated it omits impurities and impure molecules that do not dissolve in the heated clay. When the clay is cooled after being transformed into glass it leaves behind tiny voids where air and moisture can penetrate. This process of firing and cooling repeatedly causes the cement mixture to form into different textures and properties.
Modern ceramics are made through a combination of firing, heating, folding and baking. Pottery first developed from the repeated firing of raw materials until something that worked became available. At the most basic level, ceramics are composed of mineral feldspar and sometimes high-carbonate salts of iron or steel. These minerals are combined by means of annealing and high temperatures to convert the material into a liquid state, referred to as pottery. When the clay is cool it will harden into a solidifying mass, which can then be molded into any shape imaginable.
Modern ceramics are manufactured to high standards of hardness and durability and are resistant to extreme temperatures. However, even modern ceramics are affected by changes in temperature, such that certain types of ceramics may expand and contract depending on the surrounding temperature. One of the most common materials used in thermal insulating furnishings is glazed porcelain. Glazed porcelain is made through the heating of a solution containing magnesium oxide and titanium dioxide, followed by the application of a catalyst. These solutions cool at very high temperatures, locking the materials into their crystalline structures.
Ceramics have proven to be good thermal insulators. In addition to being fire-proof, they also do not absorb heat and are very well suited as electrical insulators. This is because the crystalline structure of these ceramics absorbs both high temperatures and direct light. Thus, if you want to keep rooms warm, invest in some good thermal insulators; ceramic panels, for example, are popular choices.
Ceramics were originally fired in kiln-type furnaces. The ceramic fired inside these kilns was initially a clay slab. The slab was fired for weeks or months at a time in order to create a rigid and waterproof layer. This would be the basis of early ceramic construction, and it was a key influence on other cultures and societies as well. Over time, other materials such as terracotta were added to the ceramic firing process in order to form the most durable and resistant materials available.
Ceramics have also been an inspiration for advanced ceramics. Some advanced ceramics, such as enameled steel and stainless steel, incorporate ceramic additives in order to improve their mechanical properties. These materials exhibit enhanced mechanical strength, fracture toughness and resist corrosion. In addition, ceramic additives increase the degree of porosity and chemical stability. As a result, these materials are often used in applications requiring toughness and durability. Indeed, as technology continues to advance, ceramic components may find more applications in the industrial and construction arena.