Editorial Feature

Magnesium Silicate Ceramics & Their Rise in the Global Market

Glass and ceramics are both inorganic materials with useful physical properties that can withstand a high amount of thermal shock and harsh environments. As material scientists continue to find ways in which they can manipulate the properties of glass, glass-ceramics and ceramics for specific electrical and heat requirements, a new field of electroceramics has erupted to enhance the energy-saving properties of capacitors; as well as improve wireless communication devices and a number of other electronic properties.

Magnesium Silicate Ceramics: Composition, Types and Applications

Derived from soapstone, clay, corundum and mullite, the chemical composition of magnesium silicate ceramics includes silica (SiO2), magnesia (MgO) and some traces of alumina (Al2O3). Steatite and cordierite are two types of magnesium silicate ceramics that share a similar chemical structure, but vary on their density and melting points, which subsequently affects the different ways in which these silicate ceramics are often utilized. For example, steatite has a density of 3.21 g/cm3 and a melting point of 1557 °C1. Steatite ceramics often exhibit a high mechanical strength, dielectric properties and a low loss factor, thereby allowing this material to typically be utilized in heat and electrical engineering applications. Such consumer products include electrical sockets, control housings, insulating beads, low-voltage power fuses and base plates.

In contrast, both the density and melting point of cordierite ceramics is slightly lower than that of steatite, at 2.60 g/cm3 and 1470 °C, respectively. As a result, cordierite ceramics often exhibit superior properties when compared to steatite ceramics, including excellent thermal shock resistance, high chemical durability, high refractoriness and a low thermal expansion coefficient (CTE) that typically measures to 1.5 x 10-6 C-1 when present in a temperature range of 25-700 °C1, whereas steatite ceramics have a much higher CTE value of 6 x 10-6 C- when present in the same external conditions. Some applications of cordierite ceramics include electrical porcelains, catalytic convertor substrates that are used to control the production of gas exhaust in vehicles, heat exchangers in gas turbine engines, industrial furnaces, metal refractory coatings, integrated circuit substrates and much more.

Cordierite ceramics can be manufactured a much lower cost than steatite, while simultaneously providing better electrical properties than its counterpart; making this type of magnesium silicate ceramic a popular material option in the electronics industry.

Leading Producers of Magnesium Silicate Ceramics

There are five applications in which the magnesium silicate ceramics market divides these materials and their products into, which include:

  1. Electronics and Electricals
  2. Transportation
  3. Medical
  4. Industrial Market
  5. Defense and Security

The following manufacturers are some of the leading companies that produce products containing magnesium silicate ceramics:

  • Kyocera Corp: Originally founded in 1959, this Japanese based company produces a variety of products for solar energy applications, printers and multifunctional products, as well as electronic and mobile devices2. The high purity of Kyocera’s ceramic capacitors allow for their high reliability and capacitance for a range of consumer and industrial applications.
     
  • Corning Inc.: For 166 years, New York based Corning Inc. has remained one of the leading innovators in materials science, with specializations including ceramics and glass science, optical physics, deep manufacturing and engineering. Some of Corning’s ceramic technologies include substrates used in catalytic convertors for automotive emissions control, lithium energy storage devices and much more3.
     
  • AGC Ceramics Co., Ltd.: This 102 year old Japan based company primarily focuses on the needs of high temperature industries, producing products such as fused cast refractory, monolithic refractor, bonded refractory and fine ceramics. AGC prides itself on being one of the leading companies to provide industrial solutions that are environmentally friendly and suitable for long-term usage4.

References:

  1. “Characterization of microstructural and thermal properties of steatite/cordierite ceramics prepared by using natural raw materials” H. Gokce, D. Agaogullari, et al. Journal of European Ceramic Society. (2011). DOI: 10.1016/j.jeurceramsoc.2010.12.007.
  2. “Ceramic Capacitors” – Kyocera
  3. “Innovation Corner: Ceramic Technologies” – Corning
  4. “AGC Ceramics Company” – AGC Ceramics Co., Ltd

Image credit: Nuray Elitok/shutterstock

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Benedette Cuffari

Written by

Benedette Cuffari

After completing her Bachelor of Science in Toxicology with two minors in Spanish and Chemistry in 2016, Benedette continued her studies to complete her Master of Science in Toxicology in May of 2018. During graduate school, Benedette investigated the dermatotoxicity of mechlorethamine and bendamustine, which are two nitrogen mustard alkylating agents that are currently used in anticancer therapy.

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