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Title: Thermal-mechanical behaviour of the hierarchical structure of human dental tissue
Author: Sui, Tan
ISNI:       0000 0004 5354 2321
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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Human dental tissues are fascinating nano-structured hierarchical materials that combine organic and mineral phases in an intricate and ingenious way to obtain remarkable combinations of mechanical strength, thermal endurance, wear resistance and chemical stability. Attempts to imitate and emulate this performance have been made since time immemorial, in order to provide replacement (e.g. in dental prosthodontics) or to develop artificial materials with similar characteristics (e.g. light armour). The key objectives of the present project are to understand the structure-property relationships that underlie the integrity of natural materials, human dental tissues in particular, and the multi-scale architecture of mineralized tissues and its evolution under thermal treatment and mechanical loading. The final objective is to derive ideas for designing and manufacturing novel artificial materials serving biomimetic purposes. The objectives are achieved using the combination of a range of characterization techniques, with particular attention paid to the synchrotron X-ray scattering (Small- and Wide-Angle X-ray Scattering, SAXS and WAXS) and imaging techniques (Micro Computed Tomography), as well as microscopy techniques such as Environmental Scanning Electron Microscopy (ESEM), Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) and Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM). Mechanical properties were characterized by nanoindentation and photoelasticity; and thermal analysis was carried out via thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). Experimental observations were critically examined and matched by advanced numerical simulation of the tissue under thermal-mechanical loading. SAXS and WAXS provided the initial basis for elucidating the structure-property relationships in human dentine and enamel through in situ experimentation. Four principal types of experiment were used to examine the thermal and mechanical behaviour of the hierarchical structure of human dental tissue and contributed to the Chapters of this thesis: (i) In situ elastic strain evolution under loading within the hydroxyapatite (HAp) in both dentine and enamel. An improved multi-scale Eshelby inclusion model was proposed taking into account the two-level hierarchical structure, and was validated against the experimental strain evaluation data. The achieved agreement indicates that the multi-scale model accurately reflects the structural arrangement of human dental tissue and its response to applied forces. (ii) The morphology of the dentine-enamel junction (DEJ) was examined by a range of techniques, including X-ray imaging and diffraction. The transition of mechanical properties across the DEJ was evaluated by the high resolution mapping and in situ compression measurement, followed by a brief description of the thermal behaviour of DEJ. The results show that DEJ is a narrow band of material with graded structure and mechanical properties, rather than a discrete interface. (iii) Further investigation regarding the thermo-mechanical structure-property relationships in human dental tissues was carried out by nanoindentation mapping of the nano-mechanical properties in ex situ thermally treated dental tissues. (iv) In order to understand the details of the thermal behaviour, in situ heat treatment was carried out on both human dental tissues and synthetic HAp crystallites. For the first time the in situ ultrastructural alteration of natural and synthetic HAp crystallites was captured in these experiments. The results presented in this thesis contribute to the fundamental understanding of the structure-property integrity mechanisms of natural materials, human dental tissues in particular. These results were reported in several first author publications in peer-reviewed journals, conference proceedings, and a book chapter.
Supervisor: Korsunsky, Alexander Sponsor: University of Oxford Department of Engineering Science ; St Cross College
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Solid mechanics ; Materials engineering ; Advanced materials ; Materials Modelling ; Biomaterials ; Dental tissues ; Synchrotron X-ray diffraction ; Microscopy ; human dental tissue ; mechanical-thermal behaviour ; synchrotron X-ray scattering ; modelling