Ceramics are inorganic, nonmetallic, often crystalline, materials made by the action of high temperature and subsequent cooling, similar to glass. They traditionally consist of hard, brittle, insulating, and corrosion-resistant materials.
The word ceramic commonly evokes articles of earthenware, pottery, or porcelain made of clay minerals. Ceramics is one of the most ancient industries on Earth. The origins of the art and technique of making objects from clay and similar materials, treated by firing, can be traced back to as early as 24,000 BC.
This ancient practice not only endured the consecutive rise and fall of different eras, but has evolved and secured its place in modern times. Currently, advanced ceramics engineering constitutes a major R&D opportunity.
This article will discuss promising fields
for advanced ceramics applications and the Federal R&D tax
credit opportunity available for companies investing in
eligible ceramics-related innovation activities.
Enacted in 1981, the Federal Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit allows a credit of up to 13 percent of eligible spending for new and improved products and processes. Qualified research must meet the following four criteria:
Eligible costs include employee wages, cost
of supplies, cost of testing, contract research expenses, and
costs associated with developing a patent. On January 2, 2013,
President Obama signed the bill extending the R&D Tax
Credit for 2012 and 2013 tax years.
Ceramic's uniquely variable set of properties is an unquestionable asset in many industries and applications. Only a few decades ago, many of the current classes of ceramic technologies would have seemed inconceivable.
Historically, ceramics have been utilized for their refractory (thermally insulating) and electrically insulating properties in applications such as spark plugs and dielectric layers of capacitors. However, modern ceramics discoveries have yielded materials with diverse electrical properties including standard conductors, ion conductors, and even semiconductors. These improvements have lead to a myriad of novel applications, for example, liquid and gas sensors and fuel cell technologies. Additional phenomena such as ferroelectric and magnetic properties have also been observed, resulting in memory storage uses in computing technologies and numerous types of superconductors.
Despite their relatively high brittleness, ceramics have become a common material used in mechanical applications requiring enhanced hardness, or extreme wear, corrosion, and thermal resistance. Examples of these applications include structural elements, such as bricks, or high strength tools and equipment, bearings, and abrasives. Recently, tremendous research and development has been devoted to high temperature, low density ceramics for high efficiency turbines used in energy generation applications.
These properties have also developed
completely new and innovative applications for advanced
ceramic materials. The chemical inertness and similar
mechanical properties to natural bone have solidified ceramics
as a primary choice for many biocompatible medical implants.
The high strength and brittleness has been utilized in
ballistics shielding, ranging from bulletproof vests to tank
As ceramics technology has progressed, it has become central to a variety of industries. The so-called advanced applications of ceramics are based on the specific thermal, electrical, mechanical, optical, magnetic, biomedical, and chemical properties of such materials. Examples include segments, such as electronics, transportation, military, and healthcare.
The following table, adapted from The American Ceramic Society, summarizes how ceramic materials contributed to the National Academy of Engineering's Top 20 Engineering Achievements that have had the greatest impact on the quality of life in the 20th century.
Advanced ceramics studies have uncovered a number of new, diverse, and exciting functionalities of these "ancient" materials. Ceramics engineering is currently a field of tremendous activity and holds countless opportunities for innovation. Companies engaged in ceramics-related R&D activities may be entitled to significant Federal tax credits. The following paragraphs will portrait recent examples of ceramics innovation efforts.
Ceramics, one of the world's most ancient industries, is now key to the development of a number of 'futuristic' technologies. Not only have advanced ceramics applications been central to major engineering achievements in the 20th Century, but they are also at the heart of important ongoing R&D efforts. From aviation to alternative energy production, ceramics represent a promising field for innovation. Federal R&D tax credits are available to support eligible ceramics-related innovation activities.
Charles R Goulding Attorney/CPA, is the President of R&D Tax Savers.
Seann Convey is a Tax Analyst with R&D Tax Savers.
Andressa Bonafé is a Tax Analyst with R&D Tax Savers.
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