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So you'll find most science textbooks and dictionaries telling you ceramics are nonmetallic and inorganic solids (ones that aren't metal or based on carbon compounds); in other words, ceramics are what we're left with when we take away metals and organic materials (including wood, plastics, rubber, and anything that was once alive).Some books also try to define ceramics as "refractory" materials, which is a technical, materials science term that means capable of putting up with everyday abuses like extremes of temperature, attacks from acids and alkalis, and general wear-and-tear.Maybe you worked all day at a computer (packed with ceramic-based electronic components, like microchips, capacitors, or resistors), before heading back home for a glass of wine, gobbled down dinner from those same pottery plates, and sat in front of the liquid-crystal TV (or Gorilla glass smartphone), before heading for bed and setting the quartz clock, ready to repeat again tomorrow.
Ceramic components are also used in ordinary car engines for the same reason.
For example, graphite (a form, or allotrope, of carbon) is considered a ceramic because it's nonmetallic and inorganic, yet (unlike most ceramics) it's soft, wears easily, and is a good conductor of electricity.
So if you looked only at the properties of graphite, you wouldn't consider it a ceramic at all.
Examples include silicon carbide fibers in a silicon carbide matrix (Si C/Si C) with boron nitride at the interface between them—a material used in cutting-edge gas-turbine jet engines.
Photo: Advanced ceramics: Silicon and carbon fuse to form silicon carbide powder (left), which can be made into a hard and hard-wearing ceramic called silicon carbide that can survive high temperatures.