Zirconia-toughened alumina (ZTA) and alumina-toughened zirconia (ATZ) are two types of composite materials that combine the properties of zirconia and alumina. Zirconia is known for its tendency to remain partially stabilized in the tetragonal phase, while alumina has moderate toughness. By combining these two materials, composites can be developed with enhanced fracture toughness, strength, and resistance to low-temperature degradation.
ZTA is a composite in which zirconia is the toughening phase and alumina is the matrix phase. This composite is created by adding unstabilized zirconia to alumina, which results in an increase in fracture toughness due to the interactions between the crack front and the second phase. ZTA has been considered for use in arthroplasty applications due to its enhanced mechanical properties.
On the other hand, ATZ is a composite in which alumina is the toughening phase and zirconia is the matrix phase. This composite is created by adding alumina to zirconia, resulting in a composite that is tougher and more damage-tolerant than pure zirconia. ATZ has been used in dental and orthopedic applications due to its high strength and fracture toughness.
Both ZTA and ATZ can be structured at either the micro or nanoscale, and the percentage of zirconia or alumina in the composite can be tailored and adjusted according to demand or through manufacturers' manipulation. These composites have several advantages over Y-TZP, including resistance to low-temperature degradation, higher strength, and fracture toughness, as well as more than double Y-TZP's cyclic fatigue strength.
In recent years, a new material development has emerged - graded alumina and graded zirconia. These are variations of polycrystalline restorative materials that are infiltrated with glass to create a more damage-tolerant and aesthetically pleasing system. A graded structure is a material composition that gradually changes across an interface, resulting in improved clinical performance.
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