Ceramics by the Solution-Sol-Gel Route

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Science  18 Dec 1987:
Vol. 238, Issue 4834, pp. 1664-1669
DOI: 10.1126/science.238.4834.1664


The use of solution mixing followed by gelation to make ultrahomogeneous glasses and ceramics of various oxide compositions for laboratory experimentation, with first organic and later principally colloidal inorganic, precursors was developed over 30 years ago. Major technologies that use the solution-sol-gel route have been developed to make nuclear fuel pellets, ceramic fibers, thin coatings, and abrasive grain. This article reviews the early history and summarizes present research in this field, particularly new processes aimed at achieving xerogel precursors of maximum heterogeneity with respect either to composition or to structure. Such nanocomposites provide major advantages in lowering sintering temperatures, refining microstructure, and controlling morphology and final phase composition.