U.S. Department of Commerce


Date of this Version



Published in: Journal of Biomedical Materials Research, Part B: Applied Biomaterials 72B: 388–392 (2005).


The strength degrading effects of sharp-contact damage are examined for Y-TZP ceramic plates bonded to a plastic substrate. Contacts are made with Vickers and Berkovich diamond indenters at low loads (0.1 N to 100 N) in the ceramic lower surfaces prior to bonding to the substrates. The indentations remain in the subthreshold region, that is, without visible corner radial cracks, over the lower region (< 10 N) of the load range. A concentrated load is then applied sinusoidally to the ceramic upper surface, with the loading axis centered on the subsurface indentation flaw, thereby subjecting the flaw to cyclic tension. Relative to polished surfaces, the indentations diminish the single-cycle strength by an amount that increases with increasing indentation load. The critical number of cycles required to cause failure from the indentation flaws is then measured at specified maximum lower surface tensile stresses. At each indentation load, the strength of the ceramic plates diminishes with increased cycling. The scale of degradation is compared with that from previous studies on Y-TZP surfaces containing larger-scale surface damage: sandblast damage, as used in dental crown preparation; and blunt-contact trauma from a spherical indenter at 3000 N. These other damage modes are shown to be equivalent in their strength-degrading capacity to diamond pyramid indentations in the microscale load range 0.1 N to 1 N, attesting to the highly deleterious nature of sharp particulate contacts. The mechanism of fatigue is considered in terms of microcrack evolution within the indentation damage zone.