Ceramic materials are used for characteristics other than strength or inertness where the ceramic body performs a function in a component due to its changing structure or charge under varying conditions.
Zirconium oxide is used in the production of dielectric powders for ceramic capacitors. The dielectric properties are concerned with the storage and dissipation of electric and magnetic energy in materials.
Piezo ceramics, such as lead Zirconate Titanate, are ceramic materials that develop a voltage across two of its faces when compressed which is useful for sensor applications. It will also physically change shape when an external electric field is applied making it useful in actuator applications.
Zirconium oxide is also used in the production of oxygen sensors to measure the exhaust gas concentration of oxygen for internal combustion engines in vehicles. The sensing element is made with Zirconia Ceramic. It operates by measuring the difference in oxygen between exhaust gas and the external air, and generates a voltage or changes its resistance depending on the difference between the two.