Materials designed and engineered for technical applications must invariably meet or exceed multiple key specifications. Even if commercial realization is not intended, scientific interest is piqued if a challenging combination of properties is achieved, particularly if they are mutually exclusive for certain classes of materials. For example, the combination of mechanical toughness, chemical durability, and high thermal-shock resistance, with pore-free, smooth, aesthetically beautiful surfaces simultaneously realized in certain glasses that are crystallized in a controlled manner—glass-ceramics—have enabled two distinct, decades-long applications, cookware and flat cooktop panels. Other special glass-ceramic materials have been developed for electronic, photonic, dental, and biomedical applications. No other class of material could combine these properties in such an advantageous and economically feasible manner. This issue highlights six very different innovative applications of glass-ceramics, all of which owe their importance and continuing interest to “hard-to-combine” properties.
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