How do you sinter material to perfection to make it as transparent as window glass . . . or a single crystal? ACerS Fellow and former president Gary Messing has been looking into this question at Penn State University and is particularly focused on the microstructure-property relations of these materials. He explains, for example, that single-crystal Nd:YAG lasers face power limitations because of imperfections in the single crystal. However, his work shows that significantly more powerful lasers can be attained if ceramic can be substituting for the single crystal. Messing also discusses his work in “templated grain growth” to control crystal orientation in ceramic materials. This template-driven, seed-crystal approach offers a cost-effective way to develop materials with, for example, a greater piezoelectric response or one that can be created with larger dimensions than single-crystal approaches. 8 minutes.