ANALYSIS: Could Ancient Pottery Improve Spacecraft Tiles?
A form of ceramic called alumina is being used in new ion propulsion drive, which uses electricity to heat gas and generate ions, according to Charlie Spahr, executive director of the American Ceramics Council.
"Ceramics are really good where you want to reduce wear and tear," Spahr said.
The Pentagon's research branch has been funding various projects to discover new ways to build lighter, stronger and more heat-resistant materials for aerospace and military applications.
"The method described in the new Science paper brings us closer to the goal of being able to 'engineer in' desired material properties that generally are not found together, such as strength and low density or low weight, and to craft these materials into complex shapes," said Stefanie Tompkins, director of the Defense Science Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Figuring out how to make customized 3-D printed ceramic parts could also make a difference in gas-fired power plants, for example, or other types of gas engines, according to DARPA officials.