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Ceramic rebounds from stressful situations

11:32am, February 25, 2003

Say the word ceramic and many people think of teacups or plates that shatter when dropped. Although scientists value high-quality ceramics, such as those used to shield spacecraft from heat, for their combination of heat resistance, stiffness, and lightness, even these ceramics are brittle and difficult to cut or drill without breaking.

Recent experiments reveal that an unusual ceramic material, titanium silicon carbide (Ti3SiC2), can fully recover after being compressed with a stress that would leave most ceramics shattered and most metals permanently deformed. The studies also indicate that the ceramic readily dissipates energy, meaning that it could be useful for damping vibrations in machiner

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