Transparent nanozirconia developed

Optical microscopy image of dry-compacted nanozirconia (fractured cross-section) comparing 3 nm hard-agglomerated conventionally produced nanozirconia (left) to Glidewell-produced 3 nm nanozirconia material (right). Conventionally produced 3 nm nanozirconia material is white opaque, whereas Glidewell’s gas-phase-condensated nanozirconia is transparent after compaction.

Glidewell Laboratories, industry-leading provider of dental lab products and services and manufacturer of BruxZir Solid Zirconia dental material, Research & Development team has moved closer to producing transparent nanozirconia by successfully synthesizing 3 nm zirconia nanocrystals produced by “bottom-up” nanotechnology.

The research team, led by Ken Knapp, Glidewell Laboratories’ program manager and lead researcher, developed a method for producing non-agglomerated 3 nm nanocrystalline zirconia powder using a revolutionary bottom-up nanotechnology technique known as “gas-phase condensation.” The focused effort of the nanozirconia research team over the last year has resulted in new discoveries about the nature of sub-5 nm nanozirconia crystals. Glidewell Laboratories has filed a U.S. patent application on the new ceramic nanotechnology (patent pending). This method consists of colliding high-energy yttrium, zirconium and oxygen ions together in an energetic gaseous phase and condensing yttria zirconia nanocrystal particles resulting from atomic collisions during flight in the gas phase. The condensed yttria zirconia nanocrystal particles are separated from the gas phase and collected in the form of nanocrystalline powder. According to Knapp, “The key to making transparent polycrystalline zirconia material is starting with a non-agglomerated yttria zirconia primary crystal size less than 5 nm. Glidewell’s new gas-phase condensation nanotechnology for producing nanozirconia will allow us to overcome the fundamental polycrystalline birefringence barrier to manufacturing a transparent, high-strength monolithic dental ceramic product.”

he future for high-strength esthetic nanozirconia is agglomerate-free sub-5 nm powder. James Glidewell, CDT, CEO and president of Glidewell Laboratories said, “Our continued nanozirconia research efforts, from the fundamental way that zirconia nanocrystals are formed to new sintering methods, will allow us to extend our BruxZir® product life into the next generation of nanocrystalline dental ceramics.”

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