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Aluminium oxide (commonly known as alumina) is an inorganic compound of aluminium and oxygen with the formula Al2O3. It forms a protective layer on metallic aluminium, making it resistant to corrosion. It is also an essential component of aluminium bronzes, where it acts as a deoxidiser, allowing the metal to form highly ductile structures. It is also used in ceramics and refractory materials, where it is valued for its high alumina content, hardness, stiffness, dielectric properties, and refractoriness.
Alumina can exist in several crystalline phases, most of which revert to the thermodynamically stable hexagonal alpha phase at elevated temperatures. This phase is the material of choice for structural alumina due to its high strength and stiffness, good electrical properties, and refractoriness. Alumina powder is a very hard abrasive, rated 9 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, and is used for grinding applications and as a less expensive substitute for industrial diamond. It is a key ingredient in the powdery abrasive substance known as corundum, used for billiards cue tips, and as a component of CD/DVD polishing and scratch-repair kits.
It is an important raw material for the manufacture of aluminosilicate glass, in which it makes up between 5 and 10% of the formulation. It is also a common raw material for the production of ceramic insulators, especially in high-temperature furnaces, where it is often mixed with silica. Aluminium oxide is an important catalyst support for many industrial reactions, including hydrodesulfurization and some Ziegler-Natta polymerisations.