We all have items in our homes that are made of ceramics: dinner plates, floor tiles -- and toilets. And in the technical world, ceramics are used in electrical devices, fiber-optic cables, and even the space shuttle tiles. A ceramic is strong and hard, but its best quality -- the most important to scientists -- is its high melting temperature, which allows engineers to use it in places where even metals would melt. At the laboratory at NAVSEA Carderock in Bethesda, Maryland, engineers are creating ceramics that will improve engine performance. "Everything we make here is very new," says materials engineer Jim Zaykoski, Ph.D. "It's never been done before, and that's the exciting part of what we do."