Chemists from the Otto-Schott-Institute for Glass Chemistry at Jena University in Germany have produced a new kind of glass ceramic with a nanocrystalline structure. The material has high strength characteristics and optical properties which make it ideal for use in dental applications.
The ceramic material comprises magnesium, aluminum and silicon dioxide, a combination known for its high strength properties. So far the new material has demonstrated a strength five times greater than comparable denture ceramics. By making the ceramic optically similar to natural teeth the researchers have overcome the major barrier for use of the material in dental applications.
More from the announcement:
….the glass-ceramics are produced according to an exactly specified temperature scheme: First of all the basic materials are melted at about 1.500 °C, then cooled down and finely cut up. Then the glass is melted again and cooled down again. Finally, nanocrystals are generated by controlled heating to about 1,000 °C. “This procedure determines the crystallisation crucial for the strength of the product”, the glass chemist Rüssel explains. But this was a technical tightrope walk. Because a too strongly crystallised material disperses the light, becomes opaque and looks like plaster. The secret of the Jena glass ceramic lies in its consistence of nanocrystals. The size of these is at most 100 nanometers in general. “They are too small to strongly disperse light and therefore the ceramic looks translucent, like a natural tooth”
Abstract in Journal of Biomedical Research: Colorless and high strength MgO/Al2O3/SiO2 glass–ceramic dental material using zirconia as nucleating agent
Press release: Nanocrystals Make Dentures Shine…