A ceramic is an inorganic, non-metallic solid prepared by the action of heat and subsequent cooling. Ceramic materials may have a crystalline or partly crystalline structure, or may be amorphous (e.g., a glass). Because most common ceramics are crystalline, the definition of ceramic is often restricted to inorganic crystalline materials, as opposed to the non-crystalline glasses.
The earliest ceramics were pottery objects made from clay, either by itself or mixed with other materials. Ceramics now include domestic, industrial and building products and art objects. In the 20th century, new ceramic materials were developed for use in advanced ceramic engineering; for example, in semiconductors.
The word ceramic comes from the Greek word κεραμικός (keramikos) meaning pottery, which is said to derive from the Indo-European word ker, meaning heat. Ceramic may be used as an adjective describing a material, product or process; or as a singular noun, or, more commonly, as a plural noun, ceramics.
Types of ceramic products