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A transparent polycrystalline ceramic having scattering and absorption loss less than 0.2/cm over a region comprising more than 95% of the originally densified shape and a process for fabricating the same by hot pressing. The ceramic can be any suitable ceramic such as yttria (Y2O3) or scandia (Sc2O3) and can have a doping level of from 0 to 20% and a grain size of greater than 30 μm, although the grains can also be smaller than 30 μm. Ceramic nanoparticles can be coated with a sintering aid to minimize direct contact of adjacent ceramic powder particles and then baked at high temperatures to remove impurities from the coated particles. The thus-coated particles can then be densified by hot pressing into the final ceramic product. The invention further provides a transparent polycrystalline ceramic solid-state laser material and a laser using the hot pressed polycrystalline ceramic.