• dental ceramics;
  • elastic modulus;
  • hardness;
  • fracture;
  • layer structures;
  • material design;
  • strength;
  • toughness


Results of contact tests using spherical indenters on flat ceramic coating layers bonded to compliant substrates are reported for selected dental ceramics. Critical loads to produce various damage modes, cone cracking, and quasiplasticity at the top surfaces and radial cracking at the lower (inner) surfaces are measured as a function of ceramic-layer thickness. It is proposed that these damage modes, especially radial cracking, are directly relevant to the failure of all-ceramic dental crowns. The critical load data are analyzed with the use of explicit fracture-mechanics relations, expressible in terms of routinely measurable material parameters (elastic modulus, strength, toughness, hardness) and essential geometrical variables (layer thickness, contact radius). The utility of such analyses in the design of ceramic/substrate bilayer systems for optimal resistance to lifetime-threatening damage is discussed. © 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res (Appl Biomater) 63: 137–145, 2002; DOI 10.1002/jbm.10091