Zirconium dioxide (ZrO2) or zirconia is a chemically inert, high-strength and low thermally conductive ceramic that can be used in many applications. Zirconia occurs naturally in a monoclinic crystalline form and other crystal structures are produced using stabilizing dopants. A popular form for the consumer market is stabilized cubic zirconia as a synthetic diamond or gemstone for jewelry. The stabilized tetragonal form of zirconia has very high toughness and wear resistance. This allows zirconia to be used as bearings in applications where heat and chemical resistance would limit the use of metal bearings.
Zirconia has high ionic oxygen conductivity at high temperatures allowing its use as an electro-ceramic, such as an oxygen sensor or fuel cell membrane. Other applications of zirconia that take advantage of the material’s high strength, toughness and wear resistance include dental restorations and ceramic knives and cutting blades. Zirconia is used as an optical coating due to its high index of refraction from the near-UV to the mid-IR. CeraNova produces a transparent form of zirconia that transmits in the same region that could be used in window and dome applications.