Low-Expansion Ceramic Materials | Innovation Corner | Culture of Innovation | Corning

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ceramics in kiln

Low-Expansion Ceramic Materials

Low-Expansion Ceramic Materials

When you think of ceramics you may picture pottery and tiles, but at Corning, our scientists spend a lot of time researching crystalline materials to develop innovative ceramic materials that have unique properties such as low thermal expansion.

Most ceramic materials are not very tolerant of extreme temperature gradients so when they are exposed to high temperatures, the material expands, causing it to crack or shatter, as shown in the image on the left.

Our scientists, who are experts at creating unique “recipes” for different types of ceramics, have developed a low-expansion ceramic material that can withstand major temperature shifts without cracking or shattering.

In the video below, Dr. Patrick Tepesch, a Corning research scientist, demonstrates what happens when you heat up ceramics with different thermal expansion thresholds.

Today, our low-expansion ceramics are used in exhaust-gas treatment applications to help reduce harmful emissions from cars and trucks.

Another way we make ceramic materials that are more resistant to thermal shock is to make them very thin so the material bends instead of breaking when exposed to extreme temperature gradients.  The image on the left shows a ceramic material developed by Corning scientists that is only 20 microns thick, which is thinner than a strand of hair. 

In the future, our thin, bendable ceramics could be used to make fuel cells that turn fuel directly into electricity, enabling higher efficiency and lower emissions in automotive applications.

Click here to learn more about Corning’s clean-air technologies, and how we are enabling the world to breathe easier with our innovative, life-changing products.