Fundamental Explanations

The properties of metal oxide compounds depend on the individual atoms present, the nature of the bonding between the atoms, and the crystalline structure of the resulting compound. Materials engineers are concerned with the physical manifestations of bonding and crystal structure, meaning macroscopic properties such as elastic modulus and coefficient of thermal expansion, rather than the nature of the interactions among atoms. However, the ability to tailor material behavior and to design compositions and microstructures for specific applications requires an understanding of the fundamental physical and chemical principles that control bonding and crystal structure. To address these points, this section provides a brief review of atomic structure and bonding, crystal structure, and the resulting macroscopic behavior as they pertain to oxide ceramics.