Dating of domestic ceramics

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Just consider, most of us tile our kitchens and bathrooms because ceramic tiles are hard, waterproof, largely resistant to scratches, and keep on looking good for year upon year; but engineers also put (very different!) ceramic tiles on space rockets to protect them against heat when they whiz back to Earth.

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Not all high-tech ceramic materials are simple compounds.

Diamond (another form of carbon) is also a ceramic for the same reason; its properties couldn't be more different from those of graphite, but they're similar to those of other ceramics.

(Like modern ceramics such as tungsten carbide, diamond has long been used in cutting and drilling tools).

Most modern engineered ceramics are metal oxides, carbides, and nitrides, which means they're compounds made by combining atoms of a metal with oxygen, carbon, or nitrogen atoms.

So, for example, we have tungsten carbide, silicon carbide, and boron nitride, which are hard, cutting-tool ceramics; aluminum oxide (alumina) and silicon dioxide are used in making integrated circuits ("microchips"); and lithium-silicon oxide is used to make the heat-protective nose cones on space rockets.

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