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10 things you didn’t know about ceramics

We know that different forms of ceramic are used to make tiles, baths, plates etc, but here are 10 facts about the material that may be less familiar:

1. The oldest human-made ceramics date back to at least 24,000 BC and were found in Czechoslovakia.

2. Ceramics can be found in watches – the quartz tuning forks form the time keeping devices in watches.

3. Some orthopaedic hip replacements feature ceramic prosthesis. Hydroxyapatite, the natural mineral component of bone, has been made synthetically from a number of biological and chemical sources and can be formed into ceramic materials. Orthopedic implants made from these materials bond readily to bone and other tissues in the body without rejection or inflammatory reactions.

4. Dinnerware, lenses, home electronics, microwave transducers and many magnets are all produced from forms of ceramic.

5. Dental crowns are ceramic.

6. Ceramics produced from alumina and porcelain are widely used in insulators that protect electrical equipment outdoors.

7. Engineered ceramics are increasingly being used in commercial and military aircraft, and have been used in the space shuttle and its equipment for many years. Ceramic applications include thermal protection systems in rocket exhaust cones, insulating tiles for re-entry, engine components, and ceramic coatings that are embedded into the windshield glass of many airplanes. These coatings are transparent and conduct electricity for keeping the glass clear from fog and ice.

8. The blade of a ceramic knife will stay sharp for much longer than that of a steel knife, although it is more brittle and can be snapped if dropped on a hard surface.

9. Computers feature ceramic components such as insulators, resistors, superconductors, capacitors, ferroelectric components and microelectronic packaging.

10. Ceramics such as alumina and boron carbide have been used in ballistic armored vests to repel large-caliber rifle fire.

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