Aging resistant ZTA composite for dental applications: Microstructural, optical and mechanical characterization

Ernesto Byron Benalcazar Jalkh, Kelli Nunes Monteiro, Paulo Francisco Cesar, Luis Antonio Genova, Edmara T.P. Bergamo, Adolfo Coelho de Oliveira Lopes, Erick Lima, Paulo Noronha Lisboa-Filho, Tiago Moreira Bastos Campos, Lukasz Witek, Paulo G. Coelho, Ana Flavia Sanches Borges, Estevam A. Bonfante

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To synthesize a zirconia toughened alumina (ZTA) composite with 70% alumina reinforced by 30% zirconia for dental applications and to characterize its microstructure and optical properties for comparison with the isolated counterpart materials and a first-generation 3Y-TZP. Methods: Disc-shaped specimens were divided in four groups (n = 70/material): (1) 3YSB-E (first generation 3Y-TZP), (2) Zpex (second generation 3Y-TZP), (3) alumina, and (4) ZTA-Zpex 70/30. After synthesis, ceramic powders were pressed, and green-body samples sintered following a predetermined protocol. Specimens were polished to obtain a mirror surface finish. Apparent density was measured by Archimedes principle. X-ray diffraction (XRD) and scanning electron microscope (SEM) were used to characterize the crystalline content and microstructure. Reflectance tests were performed to determine the contrast-ratio (CR) and translucency-parameter (TP). Mechanical properties were assessed by biaxial flexural strength (BFS) test. All analyses were conducted before and after artificial aging (20 h, 134 °C, 2.2 bar). Optical parameters were evaluated through repeated-measures analysis of variance and Tukey tests (p < 0.05). BFS data were analyzed using Weibull statistics (95% CI). Results: High density values (95–99%) were found for all ceramic materials and SEM images exhibited a dense microstructure. While XRD patterns revealed the preservation of crystalline content in the ZTA composite, an increase in the monoclinic peak was observed for pure zirconias after aging. Significantly higher CR and lower TP values were observed for the ZTA composite, followed by alumina, 3YSB-E, and Zpex. The highest characteristic stress was recorded for 3YSB-E, followed by intermediate values between ZTA and Zpex, and the lowest for alumina. Aging affected the optical and mechanical properties of both zirconias, while remained stable for ZTA composite and alumina. Significance: The synthesis of experimental 70−30% ZTA composite was successful and its relevance for dental applications relies on its higher masking ability, aging resistance, and strength similar to zirconia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1190-1200
Number of pages11
JournalDental Materials
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • Composites
  • Mechanical properties
  • Microstructure
  • Optical properties
  • ZrO–AlO
  • Zirconium
  • Surface Properties
  • Materials Testing
  • Aluminum Oxide
  • Ceramics
  • Yttrium
  • Dental Materials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • General Materials Science
  • General Dentistry


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