Ceramic nanocomposites are attracting growing interest, thanks to new processing methods enabling these materials to go from the research laboratory scale to the commercial level. Today, many different types of nanocomposite structures are proposed in the literature; however, to fully exploit their exceptional properties, a deep understanding of the materials’ behavior across length scales is necessary. In fact, knowing how the nanoscale structure influences the bulk properties enables the design of increasingly performing composite materials. A further key point is the ability of tailoring the desired nanostructured features in the sintered composites, a challenging issue requiring a careful control of all stages of manufacturing, from powder synthesis to sintering. This review is divided into four parts. In the first, classification and general issues of nanostructured ceramics are reported. The second provides basic structure–property relations, highlighting the grain-size dependence of the materials properties. The third describes the role of nanocrystalline second-phases on the mechanical properties of ordinary grain sized ceramics. Finally, the fourth part revises the mainly used synthesis routes to produce nanocomposite ceramic powders, underlining when possible the critical role of the synthesis method on the control of microstructure and properties of the sintered ceramics.
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