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Brian R. Lawn

Research Interests

  • Characterization of damage and fracture in enamel and other biomineralized tissues. How microstructural complexion of tooth enamel dictates processess of damage resistance, via crack arrest and self-healing mechanisms
  • Development of biomimetic composites through understanding of damage tolerance mechanisms in natural structures
  • Analysis of replacement materials for all-ceramic dental crowns. Development of predictive 'virtual test' tools, whereby a dental practitioner can accurately predetermine an optimal restoration protocol from simple measurements of any given tooth condition
  • Anthropological implications of tooth structure in relation to diet, as inferred by tooth damage in extant and extinct species


Figure 1(left): Fracture of glass 'dome' structure simulating failure of dental crown under simulated occlusal load; Figure 2(center): Fracture of extracted human molar tooth under analogous loading conditions; Figure 3(right): Transverse section of human tooth, showing internal closed cracks ('tufts') in enamel; the tufts are sources of weakness, but the complex microstructure constrains crack growth


Publications - Downloads


Awards and Honors

  • Honorary Doctorate in Engineering, University of Western Australia, 2008
  • Honorary Fellow, International Congress of Fracture, 2005
  • Honorary Professor, Jiatong Xi'an University, 2003
  • ISI Highly Cited Researcher, 2001
  • U.S. National Academy of Engineering, 2001
  • Ross Coffin Purdy Award, American Ceramic Society, 1999
  • Hobart M. Kraner Award, American Ceramic Society, 1991
  • Fellow, American Ceramic Society, 1986
  • Edward Uhler Condon Award, National Bureau of Standards, 1984
  • Sosman Award, American Ceramic Society, 1982


Current Collaborative Programs



Robert F. Cook, David B. Marshall, Nitin P. Padture, Michelle L. Oyen, Antonia Pajares, Jodie E. Bradby, Ivar E. Reimanis, Rajan Tandon, Trevor F. Page, George M. Pharr, Brian R. Lawn
The utility of indentation testing for characterizing a wide range of mechanical properties of brittle materials is highlighted in light of recent articles


Amir Barani, Brian R. Lawn, Mark Bush, Herzl Chai
A model for the splitting of teeth from wedge loading of molar cusps from a round indenting object is presented. The model is developed in two parts: first, a

Tooth chipping can reveal bite forces and diets of fossil hominins

Paul Constantino, James J. Lee, H Chai, Bernhard Zipfel, Charles Ziscovici, Brian R. Lawn, Peter Lucas
Fossil hominin tooth enamel often exhibits antemortem edge chipping (Robinson 1954; Tobias 1967; Wallace 1973). Here we apply a simple fracture nist-equation to
Created May 8, 2019