What’s even more amazing is that ceramic technology is a driving force behind many of the continuing technological innovations. The desirable combinations of electrical, mechanical and physical properties often found in ceramics are increasing their use in the semiconductor industry as integrated circuit manufacturers strive to make their chips faster, smaller and less expensive (see “Ceramics in the Semiconductor Industry” on pages 18-21 in this issue). These advances, in turn, drive the electronics industry and facilitate the manufacture of smaller, lighter cell phones and computers.
Even in applications as diverse as automobiles, bicycles, armor and beverage cans, ceramics are playing an increasingly important role. Advances in metal matrix composites and ceramic matrix composites are leading to new military and commercial developments that capitalize on the light weight and effective thermal performance of ceramic materials (see “Advances in MMCs & CMCs” on pages 31-38 in this issue).
Ceramic industry suppliers and researchers are also doing their part to ensure that ceramics stay at the forefront of technology. For example, independent researchers have discovered that a new binder volume dilution procedure can be used to determine the critical pigment volume concentration of a ceramic slurry, thereby preventing surface defects in the cast layers of ceramic capacitors (see “Defect-Free Ceramic Capacitors” on pages 23-29 in this issue). And other researchers have found ways to manipulate the surfaces of nanosized particles to improve the abrasion-resistant ceramic coatings of the future (see “Nanomaterials and Wear Resistant Polymers,” pages 39-43 in this issue).
We’ve come a long way, baby. But the exciting thing is that we’ve only just begun to realize our potential. And as the great minds of the 21st century continue to develop amazing technological innovations, ceramics will be there, every step of the way.