Materials - Tougher teeth


Artificial teeth and crowns made of ceramic material are doomed to fail ? usually within six to 10 years ? but that may change because of a technique that borrows from nature. A group led by Claus Daniel of Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Materials Science and Technology Division has discovered that a high-speed periodic laser treatment of dental grade ceramics alters the surface structure. "Nowadays, cracks begin at the interface between ceramic and remaining tooth or metallic anchor and grow to create a fatal crack and failure of the tooth," Claus said. "We need to inhibit those cracks from be initiated." The proprietary technique being developed by Claus and partners at University of Illinois at Chicago, Boston University and University of Tennessee controls the shape and the microstructure creating nanocrystalline material with up to 50 percent increase in flexure strength adding only pennies to a product worth hundreds of dollars. The treated composite resembles biological materials with complex hierarchical structure. Funding has been provided by the Laboratory Directed Research and Development program.

 -  Ron Walli,  865.576.0226,  December 10, 2007

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