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Foundation in Materials Science

Course Type

The module is designed to introduce (or refresh) and apply fundamental principles of materials and materials science and progress to understand how central concepts relate to the clinical use of dental materials.

Topics will include:

  • Mechanical testing – tension, compression, shear, definition of properties.
  • The equations of deformation – stress, strain, Young’s modulus, Poisson ratio, shear and bulk modulus.
  • Griffith Criterion – critical stress, surface energy, size effect
  • Dynamic behaviour of materials – creep, fatigue.
  • Basic principles of mixing – powder-liquid systems, gauging and mixing volume, dilatancy.
  • Basic structure of polymers – addition, condensation reactions, viscosity, glass transition.
  • Rheology – Newtonian flow, viscoelastic behaviour, classification of flow behaviour, effects of fillers.
  • Surface properties – wetting, capillary action, chemical bonds, surfactants.
  • Laboratory-based experiments – practical aspects, data acquisition and analysis.

By the end of the module you should be able to:

  • Apply a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of theoretical concepts of the mechanical behaviour of materials to relevant experiments performed in the laboratory.
  • Evaluate the basic principles of mixing, using dental gypsum chemistry as an example, to the handling properties and processing of dental materials in general.
  • Demonstrate how fundamental concepts of polymer chemistry and temperature affect the chemical and structural properties of dental materials.
  • Specify the factors that affect the flow behaviour of materials and apply this knowledge to recognise their influence on the handling and performance of dental materials.
  • Summarise the basic interaction of wetting a solid by a liquid, surface energy and nature of interfacial chemical bonding and its relevance to selection and use of dental materials.
  • Design and execute appropriate experiments for measuring bulk and surface material properties, interpret data and output appropriate written descriptions and analysis.

The module will be assessed by:

1) a 2-hour structured, short answer written examination comprising a choice of 8 from 12 questions (60%).

2) Experimental methods and data analysis assessment (40%) comprising a peer-mark for effort within the group (~2-3 members), the experimental protocol, and write-up (Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion, Conclusions). 

An overall mark of 50% or above must be obtained to pass the module, with each individual assessment scoring not less than 40%. 

This module is only available as part of MSc Dental Materials Science and the International Doctoral Training Programme.