Novel Translucent and Strong Submicron Alumina Ceramics for Dental Restorations

M. Zhao, Y. Sun, J. Zhang, Y. Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An ideal ceramic restorative material should possess excellent aesthetic and mechanical properties. We hypothesize that the high translucency and strength of polycrystalline ceramics can be achieved through microstructural tailoring. The aim of this study is to demonstrate the superior optical and mechanical properties of a new class of submicron grain-sized alumina ceramics relative to the current state-of-the-art dental ceramic materials. The translucency, the in-line transmission (TIT) in particular, of these submicron alumina ceramics has been examined with the Rayleigh-Gans-Debye light-scattering model. The theoretical predictions related very well with the measured TIT values. The translucency parameter (TP) and contrast ratio (CR) of the newly developed aluminas were measured with a reflectance spectrophotometer on a black-and-white background. For comparison, the TIT, TP, and CR values for a variety of dental ceramics, mostly measured in-house but also cited from the literature, were included. The flexural strength of the aluminas was determined with the 4-point bending test. Our findings have shown that for polycrystalline alumina ceramics, an average grain size <1 µm coupled with a porosity level <0.7% could yield translucency values (TIT, TP, CR) similar to those of the commercial high-translucency porcelains. These values are far superior to the high-translucency lithium disilicate glass-ceramic and zirconias, including the most translucent cubic-containing zirconias. The strength of these submicron grain-sized aluminas was significantly higher than that of the cubic-containing zirconia (e.g., Zpex Smile) and lithia-based glass-ceramics (e.g., IPS e.max CAD HT). A coarse-grained alumina could also reach a translucency level comparable to that of dental porcelain. However, the relatively low strength of this material has limited its clinical indications to structurally less demanding applications, such as orthodontic brackets. With a combined high strength and translucency, the newly developed submicron grain-sized alumina may be considered a suitable material for dental restorations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-295
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of dental research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018


  • dental ceramics
  • flexural strength
  • fracture toughness
  • grain size
  • porosity
  • translucency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Dentistry


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