Ceramics

The Ceramics Industry

Although most people associate ceramics with Michael’s Arts & Crafts, the reality is that the industry of ceramics is a large and diversified industry, and includes all things glass and refractory as well. On this page we’ll try to cover some interesting and important topics involved with industry of ceramics. Topics may include: ceramic materials & definitions, glass, home/ art ceramics, and more…

The Sub-Categories of the Ceramics Industry

This section is dedicated to providing some information about the some of the sub-categories in which the rather large and diverse ceramics industry is composed of.

Construction Ceramics

Ceramics that can be considered part of the construction sub category include: bricks, cement, and other non-metal clay/silica based materials.

Glass *also see: Optical Glass

Glass is considered a faction of the ceramic industry.

Optical Glass

Optical glass materials created with the intent of achieving certain optical properties, and can be classified as either active or passive. Active-application optical glass materials may be used to make products such as lasers and phosphors, while passive-application materials may be used in products such as windows and panels.

Properties that may be of significance to an optical glass material include: UV ray protection, opacity, anti-reflective, reflective, and more. Developers may also focus on the physical-chemical properties of the material as well. Common concerns include the strength of the material, its water/other chemical resistance, thermal shock resistance, UV ray transmittance, and if the material is birefringent.

Industrial Ceramics

Industrial ceramics can loosely be defined as ceramics produced for industrial purposes with relatively standard properties, functionality, and industrial sized consumption rates.

Specialty & Hobby Ceramics

Generally includes the topics of specialty glazes, enamels, flux, and other situation-specific topics where the ingredients used may widely vary and are not uniform. Specialty ceramics may employ ceramic materials in niche or application-sensitive situations, while hobbyists may also use smaller amounts of less common ceramic materials in artistic and experimental applications.

Ceramic Materials back to top

This section is dedicated to providing some information about ceramic materials. There are a lot, and since technology constantly adds and subtracts to this list constantly, we are just going to cover the ones which we handle and possibly major or popular ones.

Aluminum Fluoride

Sub-Category Applications In: glass(optical)
Properties (specific to ceramic applications): low refractive index, glass filler, ceramic body & glaze ingredient, refractory

As an optical glass material, aluminum fluoride has a low refractive index, good mechanical strength, and is water resistant. Its low refractive index makes it a prime choice for anti-reflective coatings.

Aluminum Metaphosphate

Sub-Category Applications In: ceramics, glass, glazes, enamel
Properties (specific to ceramic applications): low refractive index, glass filler, ceramic body & glaze ingredient, refractory

Al(PO3)3 is an inorganic material that is used in certain glazes, enamels, and glass.

Aluminum Hydroxide

Sub-Category Applications In: glass (glassware), glazes(specialty ceramics)
Properties (specific to ceramic applications):

Antimony Oxide

Sub-Category Applications In: glass
Properties (specific to ceramic applications): glass decolorizer, porcelain enamel opacifier

Barite

Sub-Category Applications In: glass
Properties (specific to ceramic applications): flux, glass enhancer ingredient

Barite is used as a glass flux, and is also added to glass to add strength and brilliance.

Barium Fluoride

Sub-Category Applications In: glass(optical), industrial ceramics
Properties (specific to ceramic applications): lower UV transmittance, high resistance to high-energy radiation, (ceramic) flux & opacifier

As an optical material, barium fluoride is one of the fastest scintillators for the detection of high energy particles such as X-rays and gamma rays. Barium fluoride has a lower UV transmittance as well as a lower water and thermal shock resistance than the other optical fluorides. Notably, however, it also has the highest resistance to high-energy radiation.

Barium Metaphosphate

Sub-Category Applications In: glass (optical), low-temperature melting glass, specialty boron glass
Properties (specific to ceramic applications): high thermal co-efficient

Ba(PO3)2 is an inorganic, colorless, water-insoluble material that is best known for its aid in making low-melting, high thermal co-efficient, boron glass, specialty glasses and optical glasses (fluorophosphate optical glass).

Bentonite

Sub-Category Applications In: construction ceramics
Properties (specific to ceramic applications):

Borax

Sub-Category Applications In: construction ceramics, specialty glass
Properties (specific to ceramic applications): flux agent, borax glass

Calcium Fluoride

Sub-Category Applications In: glass(optical)
Properties (specific to ceramic applications): thermal shock resistance, low RI, water insoluble, hard

As an optical glass material, calcium fluoride is resistant to thermal shock, insoluble in water, and has a low refractive index. These qualities make it useful anti-reflection applications. Additionally, calcium fluoride is approximately twice as hard as barium fluoride but less expensive.

Lithium Carbonate

Sub-Category Applications In: ceramics, glass
Properties (specific to ceramic applications): flux, –

Lithium Fluoride

Sub-Category Applications In: glass(optical)
Properties (specific to ceramic applications):

Along with magnesium fluoride, lithium fluoride is one of the materials that will transmit in the vacuum ultra violet range.

Magnesium Fluoride

Sub-Category Applications In: glass(optical)
Properties (specific to ceramic applications): transparency, low RI, birefringent

As an optical material, magnesium fluoride exhibits transparency across a very wide range of wavelengths and has a low refractive index just below lithium fluoride’s. High quality magnesium fluoride can be pricey and lower grades may be useful in applications up to the infrared levels, although at this level it becomes inferior to calcium fluoride. *Along with lithium fluoride, lithium fluoride is one of the materials that will transmit in the vacuum ultra violet range.

Strontium Fluoride

Sub-Category Applications In: glass(optical)
Properties (specific to ceramic applications): water-non-soluble

A brittle white material that may be used in optics, with intermediate level qualities.

Ceramics Mini-Glossary back to top

Welcome to the Ceramics Mini-Glossary! Be sure to also check out out full-sized glossary located on our FAQ page.

Birefringence: A material with birefringence properties has a refractive index that depends on the polarization and propagation direction of light. When being prepared for optical applications, birefringent materials need to be cut with the optic axis perpendicular to the faces in order to minimize the affect of the birefringence upon the ray paths.

Ceramic Frit: In ceramics, a frit is a combination of materials added to the glaze materials in order to decrease their solubility and minimize their toxicity. Some frits may also increase stability within a glaze.

Knoop: A measurement unit for thin and usually brittle sheets of materials.

Phosphor: Ceramic phosphors are employed for both general lighting (as in fluorescent lights) and for electronic imaging (as in cathode-ray tubes). Phosphors function when electrons within them are stimulated from stable, low-energy positions to higher levels by an appropriate means (thermal, optical, X-ray, or electron excitation). As the energized electrons drop back to lower energy levels, light can be emitted at one or more characteristic wavelengths. These wavelengths are determined by controlled dopants (activators). Examples: europium-activated yttrium vanadate (red).

Refractive Index (RI): The refractive index of a material or substance is depicted as a dimensionless number, and refers to how light travels through the medium. This dimensionless number is a numeric representation derived from the percentage resulting from the ratio that compares the speed of light traveling in a vacuum, to the speed of light traveling through the specified medium.

Refractory: A type of ceramic engineered or naturally able to withstand very high temperatures. For example, refractory materials are often used to line kilns, furnaces, and stoves.

Optical Materials Properties Chart back to top

*Exact optical properties are subject to variations depending on situation, testing conditions, and general material composition differences.

(RI)Refractive Index,(TR)Transmission Range,(Mol.W)Molecular Weight,(K)Hardness,(Sol)Water Solubility
RI TR Density Mol.W Knoop W.Sol Material
1.33 ?μm 1g/cm3 18.01528 Water(20°C)
1.36 0.3-10 μm 2.9 g/cm3 insoluble Aluminum Fluoride UV-IR applications
1.46 0.15-12 μm 4.89 g/cm3 175.36 ~82 0.17g/100g Barium Fluoride specialty purpose windows, polish
1.433 0.13-10 μm 3.18 g/cm3 78.08 ~158.3 0.0017g/100g Calcium Fluoride specialty IR applications
1.49 0.21-20 μm 1.984 cm3 74.55 34.7g/100g Potassium Chloride
1.39515 0.12-6 μm 2.639 g/cm3 25.94 ~102 0.27g/100g Lithium Fluoride specialty UV optics
1.33 0.3-6 μm 3.58 g/cm3 40.32 ~692 0.00062g/100g Magnesium Oxide
1.37 0.12-7μm 3.18 g/cm3 62.32 415 0.002g/100g Magnesium Fluoride eximer lasers, UV optics, VUV transmittance capabilities
2.609 0.43-5 μm 4.23 g/cm3 79.9 ~879 insoluble Rutile, TiO2
1.439 0.15-11 μm 4.24 g/cm3 125.62 ~154 0.012g/100g Strontium Fluoride