Exploring China from Japan

The Chemistry of Ceramics
January 29, 1999

This book has been used for several years as a standard undergraduate textbook for Japanese students and the current edition is a successful English translation by Hisao Yaniada, which includes a number of revisions and corrections. Although the title implies that it is a chemistry text, the contents include much that I would have expected to find in any elementary book concerned with discussions of imperfections and lattice structures designed for physics or materials science courses. The fact that the earlier versions of the book have been used for some 14 years in Japan suggests that, from a student's viewpoint, the contents are pitched at an appropriate level. Indeed, even for someone such as myself, who has worked in the field of imperfections for very many years, there were a number of examples, tables, figures or comments that I found instructive and clearly presented.

The emphasis is on ceramic materials but, nevertheless, all the initial sections of the chapters establish a much more general framework for discussion. Thus, comments that introduce chemical bonding, crystal structures, structural analysis, phase equilibria, phase transformations, diffusion or interface reactions are widely applicable.

As an undergraduate book, the various basic topics listed above are presented at a satisfactory level. Development from this base to the discussion of and introduction to a wide range of properties and production techniques probably satisfies undergraduate needs, since there are numerous rapidly mentioned topics including surface structures, interfaces, fibres, sintering and ceramic processing. There is also an entire chapter listing examples of thermal, electrical, optical, mechanical and chemical properties of ceramics.

As an introductory text this lays a wide foundation for the subject, and underlines its importance.

But, inevitably in a book of this length, the examples are often very cursory and one would need considerably more development of them to gain the insight needed to make any predictions for alternative ceramic systems. Nonetheless, any student who has understood the contents of The Chemistry of Ceramics would be be well placed to proceed in this very wide and important field.

Peter Townsend is professor of experimental physics in engineering, University of Sussex.

The Chemistry of Ceramics

Author - Hiroaki Yanagida, Kunihito Koumoto and Masaru Miyayama
ISBN - 0 471 956 9 and 96733 5
Publisher - Wiley
Price - £65.00 and £22.50
Pages - 263

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