- Abstract The present study deals with a comprehensive comparison of the mechanical and functional properties of Nd:YAG single crystals with those of the polycrystalline ceramics (PCs), undoped and LiF-doped, processed by Spark Plasma Sintering (SPS). The polycrystalline ceramics have higher mechanical properties (hardness, bending strength and thermal shock resistance) than the single crystals. The optical transmittance of the LiF-doped PC Nd:YAG is significantly higher than that of the undoped one and is close to that of the single crystal. With respect to other optical and thermal properties, i.e. refraction index, absorption coefficient, extinction ratio, thermo-optic coefficient, fluorescence and thermal conductivity, no significant differences were observed between the single crystals and the polycrystalline ceramic.