PerspectiveMaterials Science

Controlling Cracks in Ceramics

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Science  05 Nov 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5442, pp. 1097-1099
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5442.1097

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Many ceramics are resistant to heat, corrosion, and wear, and they are used in applications ranging from coffee mugs to dental implants to protective tiles on the space shuttle. But they also break easily, and the maximum stress they can withstand varies unpredictably from component to component. Promising new approaches to control their brittleness and reduce the variability in their strength use layered materials, which control cracks by deflection, microcracking, or internal stresses.