Everyone with kitchen experience knows how easy it is to break a ceramic plate. Less well known is the capability of some ceramic materials to become soft and pliable when heated. For years, materials scientists have hoped to exploit this unusual property to develop ceramics that can be machined into intricate parts as easily as metals or polymers can.
A team of Japanese researchers has now overcome one obstacle to using so-called superplastic ceramics commercially. It has made a ceramic that can stretch quickly enough to appeal to manufacturers.