About the Department
From the viewpoint of Materials Science, there are three classes of materials – metals, polymers and ceramics. The class ceramics includes a wide range of materials that are mostly crystalline in structure, exhibit extreme heat and shock resistant properties and are used in numerous applications in the modern civilization. By optimizing the physical properties through engineering the atomic structure, composition and processing steps, advanced ceramic materials can be manufactured that find applications in aerospace, automotive, chemical pharmaceuticals, food processing, medical equipment, energy conservation (heat insulation), energy conversion and storage etc. From the research point of view, ceramic materials are rich in exciting new physics in the areas of ferroelectrics, multiferroics, piezoelectricity, ferromagnetics, superconductivity and photonics.
The current technological and industrial revolution depends, to a large extent, on advanced and smart materials which are an integral part of nanomaterials, the lion share of which belongs to ceramic materials. The exploitation of fundamental and unique properties of materials stems from quantum size effects. One of the properties that change significantly when the materials are downsized to the nanoscale is the chemical reactivity. Depending on the application, nanomaterials are given different shapes and forms such as nanoparticles, nanotubes, nanowires, nanofilms, nanoshells, nanoclays, nanocomposites etc. Due to the increase in surface to volume ratio, nanomaterials are more chemically reactive. Apart from the noble metals, and a few other exceptions such as the carbon nanotube, most elements including metals at the nanoscale become oxidized and therefore are ceramic. On the other hand, ceramic engineering often involves downsizing materials into one of the above shapes so that certain properties can be reached which are otherwise not possible at the bulk limit. Nanomaterials and ceramics are therefore fundamentally connected.
The Department of Nanomaterials and Ceramic Engineering was renamed in 2022 (from the Glass and Ceramic Engineering) to address future critical challenges of environment, energy, electronics and medicine by creating well trained graduates in this field.