This article discusses the fundamentals required to produce narrow size distribution fine ceramic powders, make suspensions of fine ceramic powders, and make green bodies with a uniform packing of these particles. In all cases, the interface that fine ceramic powders present to their environment is a very important parameter in controlling the properties of the powders during processing.
There are two major classifications for ceramics: structural and functional. The former includes high and low temperature applications. High temperature ceramics are needed for kiln furniture, ladles, catalyst substrates, and insulations. Low temperature uses are represented by the traditional white ware, as well as hardness applications, such as coatings, armor, and cutting tools. Electrical functions include superconductivity, dielectrics, piezoelectrics, and varistors; magnetic functions are represented by ferrite magnets and SQUIDs (Superconducting Quantum Interference Devices); and optical functions include optical and infrared windows, as well as radar windows. Each class of ceramics has different processing problems and, therefore, different research and development directions. The major areas of research advances for structural and functional ceramics are described below.