The key difference between glass and ceramic is that ceramics have crystalline or semi-crystalline or non-crystalline atomic structure whereas the atomic structure of glass is non-crystalline.
Ceramics and glass have many applications that require qualities such as hardness, rigidity, high resistance to heat, corrosion, etc. We use a vast range of ceramic materials in the day to day life. Some of them are Pottery, porcelain, bricks, tiles, glass, cement, etc. Although we can categorize glass under the group of ceramic materials, there are differences between them depending on its atomic structure that accounts for its unique characteristics.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Glass
3. What is Ceramic
4. Side by Side Comparison – Glass vs Ceramic in Tabular Form
What is Glass?
We can define glass as an amorphous solid that does not have a long-range periodic atomic structure, and it shows a glass transition behaviour. Accordingly, this glass transition behaviour is characteristic of non-crystalline (amorphous) and semi-crystalline materials. There, upon heating, the glass shows a rubber-like state over a temperature range which we call the glass transition temperature. Therefore, this falls below its melting temperature.
After that, we should super cool the glass without letting it gain the crystalline structure. Formation of glass requires network formers such as SiO2, B2O3, P2O5, GeO2, etc. and intermediates such as Ti, Pb, Zn, Al, etc. to take part in the glass network, and modifiers to break the network structure. Pure silica glass, Soda- Lime- Silica glass, Lead- Alkali- Silicate glass and Borosilicate glass are types of glass.
What is Ceramic?
We can define ceramic as an inorganic nonmetallic material that gets hardened at high temperatures. The atomic structure of ceramic can be either crystalline, non-crystalline or partially crystalline. However, most often, ceramics have a crystalline atomic structure.
In addition, we can classify ceramics as traditional or advanced ceramic mainly depending on their applications. Most ceramics are opaque except glass. Silica, Clay, Limestone, Magnesia, Alumina, Borates, Zirconia, etc. are useful as raw materials for ceramics.
Furthermore, this material is shock resistant, high strength, abrasion resistant material. However, their electrical conductivity is poor. Apart from that, we can fabricate this material via forming a paste containing very fine powder of raw materials and water into a given shape and then by sintering. Due to manufacturing processes, ceramic is a little more expensive than glass. Moreover, natural ceramics like stones, clay, and porcelain are also useful in the day to day life.
What is the Difference Between Glass and Ceramic?
Both ceramics and glass are inorganic nonmetallic solids that we use for many applications ranging from pottery to advanced engineering materials in the aerospace industry. Glass is an amorphous solid which does not have a long-range periodic atomic structure, and it shows a glass transition behaviour while ceramic is an inorganic nonmetallic material which gets hardened at high temperatures. The key difference between glass and ceramic is that ceramics have crystalline or semi-crystalline or non-crystalline atomic structure whereas the atomic structure of glass is non-crystalline.
Even though glass has a different atomic structure, it is hard, rigid, brittle, and resistant to thermal conduction, chemical corrosion and electrical conduction like most ceramics.
The below infographic presents more details on the difference between glass and ceramic.
Summary – Glass vs Ceramic
Both glass and ceramic are very important materials that we use in our day to day life frequently. The key difference between glass and ceramic is that ceramics have crystalline or semi-crystalline or non-crystalline atomic structure whereas the atomic structure of glass is non-crystalline.
1. Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Glass.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 22 Nov. 2018. Available here
2. “What Are Ceramics?” Science Learning Hub. Available here
1.”1267280″ (Public Domain) via pxhere
2.”962451″ (Public Domain) via pxhere
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