Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Dental Resin Composites Containing Silica-Fused Whiskers: Effects of Whisker-to-Silica Ratio on Fracture Toughness and Indentation Properties



Hockin D. Xu, Janet Quinn, Douglas T. Smith, Joseph M. Antonucci, Gary E. Schumacher, F Eichmiller


Dental resin composites need to be strengthened in order to improve their performance in large stress-bearing applications such as crowns and multiple-unit restorations. Recently, silica-fused ceramic whiskers were used to reinforce dental composites, and the whisker-to-silica ratio was found to be a key microstructural parameter that determined the composite strength. The aim of this study was to further investigate the effects of whisker-to-silica ratio on the fracture toughness, elastic modulus, hardness and brittleness of the composite. Silica particles and silicon carbide whiskers were mixed at whisker:silica mass ratios of 0:1, 1:5, 1:2, 1:1, 2:1, 5:1, and 1:0. Each mixture was thermally fused, silanized and combined with a dental resin at a filler mass percentage of 60 %. Fracture toughness was measured with a single-edge notched beam method. Elastic modulus and hardness were measured with a nano-indentation system. Whisker:silica ratio had significant effects on composite properties. The composite toughness (mean SD; n = 9) at whisker:silica = 2:1 was (2.47 0.28) MPa m1/2, significantly higher than (1.02 0.23) at whisker:silica = 0:1, (1.13 0.19) of a prosthetic composite control, and (0.95 0.11) of an inlay/onlay composite control (Tukey s at family confidence coefficient = 0.95). Elastic modulus increased monotonically and hardness plateaued with increasing the whisker:silica ratio. Increasing the whisker:silica ratio also decreased the composite brittleness, which became about 1/3 of that of the inlay/onlay control. Electron microscopy revealed relatively flat fracture surfaces for the controls, but much rougher ones for the whisker composites, with fracture steps and whisker pullout contributing to toughness. The whiskers appeared to be well-bonded with the matrix, probably due to the fused silica producing rough whisker surfaces. Reinforcement with silica-fused whiskers resulted in novel dental composites that possessed fracture toughness two times higher than, and brittleness less than half of current dental composites.


brittleness, dental resin composite, elastic modulus, fracure toughness, reinforcement mechanisms, whisker-to-silica ratio


Xu, H. , Quinn, J. , Smith, D. , Antonucci, J. , Schumacher, G. and Eichmiller, F. (2001), Dental Resin Composites Containing Silica-Fused Whiskers: Effects of Whisker-to-Silica Ratio on Fracture Toughness and Indentation Properties, Biomaterials (Accessed April 24, 2024)
Created April 1, 2001, Updated February 17, 2017