The polymer to ceramic transformation process enabled significant technological breakthroughs in ceramic science and technology, such as the development of ceramic fibers, coatings, or ceramics stable at ultrahigh temperatures (up to 2000°C) with respect to decomposition, crystallization, phase separation, and creep.
In recent years, several important advances have been achieved such as the discovery of a variety of functional properties associated with PDCs. Moreover, novel insights into their structure at the nanoscale level have contributed to the fundamental understanding of the various useful and unique features of PDCs related to their high chemical durability or high creep resistance or semiconducting behavior.
From the processing point of view, preceramic polymers have been used as reactive binders to produce technical ceramics, they have been manipulated to allow for the formation of ordered pores in the meso-range, they have been tested for joining advanced ceramic components, and have been processed into bulk or macroporous components.
Consequently, possible fields of applications of PDCs have been extended significantly by the recent research and development activities.
Several key engineering fields suitable for application of PDCs include high-temperature-resistant materials (energy materials, automotive, aerospace, etc.), hard materials, chemical engineering (catalyst support, food- and biotechnology, etc.), or functional materials in electrical engineering as well as in micro/nanoelectronics.
The science and technological development of PDCs are highly interdisciplinary, at the forefront of micro- and nanoscience and technology, with expertise provided by chemists, physicists, mineralogists, and materials scientists, and engineers.
Moreover, several specialized industries have already commercialized components based on PDCs, and the production and availability of the precursors used has dramatically increased over the past few years.
Initially the research on PDCs was focused mainly on dense bulk materials and fibers for mechanical applications at high temperatures. Nowadays, nano powders and porous PDCs with pore sizes in the range between several microns and few nanometers for applications such as catalyst support and for liquid and (hot) gas separation processes are gaining increasingly importance.
Moreover, the polymer-to-ceramic transformation is a suitable technology to produce a broad spectrum of ceramic based composite materials with adjusted chemical, mechanical, and physical properties.
PDCs can also be processed to thin films for optoelectronic applications and to thick films, e.g. for hard coatings, environmental barrier coatings, and others. The great flexibility in terms of processing and forming of preceramic polymers into shaped-ceramic components has also enabled them to play an important role in several other applications.
To further investigate and explore the unusual microstructure and physical properties of PDCs in more detail it will be the challenge of future studies in this field, and it requires a strong interdisciplinary approach in basic research and development in chemistry, physics, and materials science and engineering.