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Concept: Hardness


The search for new hard materials is often challenging, but strongly motivated by the vast application potential such materials hold. Ti3Au exhibits high hardness values (about four times those of pure Ti and most steel alloys), reduced coefficient of friction and wear rates, and biocompatibility, all of which are optimal traits for orthopedic, dental, and prosthetic applications. In addition, the ability of this compound to adhere to ceramic parts can reduce both the weight and the cost of medical components. The fourfold increase in the hardness of Ti3Au compared to other Ti-Au alloys and compounds can be attributed to the elevated valence electron density, the reduced bond length, and the pseudogap formation. Understanding the origin of hardness in this intermetallic compound provides an avenue toward designing superior biocompatible, hard materials.

Concepts: Materials science, Steel, Intermetallics, Friction, Hardness, Alloy, Electron, Chemical bond


Reducing the energetic cost of running seems the most feasible path to a sub-2-hour marathon. Footwear mass, cushioning, and bending stiffness each affect the energetic cost of running. Recently, prototype running shoes were developed that combine a new highly compliant and resilient midsole material with a stiff embedded plate.

Concepts: Structural analysis, Hardness, Athletic shoe, Elastic modulus, Classical mechanics, Shoe, Footwear, Elasticity


Examination of health care organizations that have achieved and sustained substantial performance improvements reveals that lasting transformation requires the relentless hard work of local operational redesign, led by multidisciplinary teams.

Concepts: Hardness, Health, Health care


Glasses with high elastic moduli have been in demand for many years because the thickness of such glasses can be reduced while maintaining its strength. Moreover, thinner and lighter glasses are desired for the fabrication of windows in buildings and cars, cover glasses for smart-phones and substrates in Thin-Film Transistor (TFT) displays. In this work, we report a 54Al2O3-46Ta2O5 glass fabricated by aerodynamic levitation which possesses one of the highest elastic moduli and hardness for oxide glasses also displaying excellent optical properties. The glass was colorless and transparent in the visible region, and its refractive index nd was as high as 1.94. The measured Young’s modulus and Vickers hardness were 158.3 GPa and 9.1 GPa, respectively, which are comparable to the previously reported highest values for oxide glasses. Analysis made using (27)Al Magic Angle Spinning Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (MAS NMR) spectroscopy revealed the presence of a significantly large fraction of high-coordinated Al in addition to four-coordinated Al in the glass. The high elastic modulus and hardness are attributed to both the large cationic field strength of Ta(5+) ions and the large dissociation energies per unit volume of Al2O3 and Ta2O5.

Concepts: Glass, Tensile strength, Elastic modulus, Light, Hardness, Stiffness, Nuclear magnetic resonance, Young's modulus


Cubic boron nitride (cBN) is a well known superhard material that has a wide range of industrial applications. Nanostructuring of cBN is an effective way to improve its hardness by virtue of the Hall-Petch effect–the tendency for hardness to increase with decreasing grain size. Polycrystalline cBN materials are often synthesized by using the martensitic transformation of a graphite-like BN precursor, in which high pressures and temperatures lead to puckering of the BN layers. Such approaches have led to synthetic polycrystalline cBN having grain sizes as small as ∼14 nm (refs 1, 2, 4, 5). Here we report the formation of cBN with a nanostructure dominated by fine twin domains of average thickness ∼3.8 nm. This nanotwinned cBN was synthesized from specially prepared BN precursor nanoparticles possessing onion-like nested structures with intrinsically puckered BN layers and numerous stacking faults. The resulting nanotwinned cBN bulk samples are optically transparent with a striking combination of physical properties: an extremely high Vickers hardness (exceeding 100 GPa, the optimal hardness of synthetic diamond), a high oxidization temperature (∼1,294 °C) and a large fracture toughness (>12 MPa m(½), well beyond the toughness of commercial cemented tungsten carbide, ∼10 MPa m(½)). We show that hardening of cBN is continuous with decreasing twin thickness down to the smallest sizes investigated, contrasting with the expected reverse Hall-Petch effect below a critical grain size or the twin thickness of ∼10-15 nm found in metals and alloys.

Concepts: Boron, Hardness, Young's modulus, Heterodiamond, Borazon, Superhard materials, Boron nitride, Diamond


This paper reports on property-process correlations in simulated clinical abrasive adjusting of a wide range of dental restorative ceramics using a dental handpiece and diamond burs. The seven materials studied included four mica-containing glass ceramics, a feldspathic porcelain, a glass-infiltrated alumina, and a yttria-stabilized tetragonal zirconia. The abrasive adjusting process was conducted under simulated clinical conditions using diamond burs and a clinical dental handpiece. An attempt was made to establish correlations between process characteristics in terms of removal rate, chipping damage, and surface finish and material mechanical properties of hardness, fracture toughness and Young’s modulus. The results show that the removal rate is mainly a function of hardness, which decreases nonlinearly with hardness. No correlations were noted between the removal rates and the complex relations of hardness, Young’s modulus and fracture toughness. Surface roughness was primarily a linear function of diamond grit size and was relatively independent of materials. Chipping damage in terms of the average chipping width decreased with fracture toughness except for glass-infiltrated alumina. It also had higher linear correlations with critical strain energy release rates (R(2)=0.66) and brittleness (R(2)=0.62) and a lower linear correlation with indices of brittleness (R(2)=0.32). Implications of these results can provide guidance for the microstructural design of dental ceramics, optimize performance, and guide the proper selection of technical parameters in clinical abrasive adjusting conducted by dental practitioners.

Concepts: Strain energy release rate, Toughness, Roughness, Correlation and dependence, Hardness, Fracture toughness, Young's modulus, Materials science


On the basis of structural and experimental data, it was previously demonstrated that the snake integument consists of a hard, robust, inflexible outer surface (Oberhäutchen and β-layer) and softer, flexible inner layers (α-layers). It is not clear whether this phenomenon is a general adaptation of snakes to limbless locomotion or only to specific conditions, such as habitat and locomotion. The aim of the present study was to compare the structure and material properties of the outer scale layers (OSLs) and inner scale layers (ISLs) of the exuvium epidermis in four snake species specialized to live in different habitats: Lampropeltis getula californiae (terrestrial), Epicrates cenchria cenchria (generalist), Morelia viridis (arboreal) and Gongylophis colubrinus (sand-burrowing). Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) of skin cross sections revealed a strong variation in the epidermis structure between species. The nanoindentation experiments clearly demonstrated a gradient of material properties along the epidermis in the integument of all the species studied. The presence of such a gradient is a possible adaptation to locomotion and wear minimization on natural substrates. In general, the difference in both the effective elastic modulus and hardness of the OSL and ISL between species was not large compared with the difference in epidermis thickness and architecture.

Concepts: Epicrates, Epicrates cenchria, Hardness, Young's modulus, Scanning electron microscope, Materials science, Skin, Snake


Metal‒organic frameworks (MOFs) are a class of fascinating supramolecular soft matters but with relatively weak mechanical strength. To enforce MOF materials for practical applications, one possible way seems to be transforming them into harder composites with a stronger secondary phase. Apparently, such a reinforcing phase must possess larger porosity for ionic or molecular species to travel into or out of MOFs without altering their pristine physicochemical properties. Herein we report a general synthetic approach to coat microporous MOFs and their derivatives with an enforcing shell of mesoporous silica (mSiO2). Four well-known MOFs (ZIF-8, ZIF-7, UiO-66 and HKUST-1), representing two important families of MOFs, have served as a core phase in nanocomposite products. We show that significant enhancement in mechanical properties (hardness and toughness) can indeed be achieved with this “armoring approach”. Excellent accessibility of the mSiO2 wrapped MOFs and their metal-containing nanocomposites has also been demonstrated with catalytic reduction of 4-nitrophenol.

Concepts: Nanocomposite, Silicon compounds, Toughness, Electrochemistry, Matter, Work hardening, Hardness, Materials science


Diaphanisation and other in vitro endodontic models (i.e., plastic blocks, micro-CT reconstruction, computerised models) do not recreate real root canal working conditions: a more realistic endodontic model is essential for testing endodontic devices and teaching purposes. The aim of this study was to describe a new technique to construct transparent teeth without decalcifying and evaluate the micro-hardness of so treated teeth. Thirty freshly extracted teeth were randomly divided into three groups as follows: 10 non-treated teeth (4 molars, 3 premolars, 3 incisors; control group - G1), 10 teeth were diaphanised (4 molars, 4 premolars, 2 incisors - G2) and 10 teeth were treated with the new proposed technique (2 molars, 6 premolars, 2 incisors - G3). Vickers hardness tester (MHT-4 and AxioVision microscope, Carl Zeiss, 37030 Gottingen, Germany - load=50g, dwell time=20s, slope=5, 50× magnification) was used to determine microhardness (Vickers Hardness Number - VHN). Statistical analysis was performed using the Intercooled Stata 8.0 software (Stata Corporation, College Station, TX, USA). Only groups 1 and 3 could be tested for hardness because diaphanised teeth were too tender and elastic. Differences in enamel VHN were observed between G1 (mean 304.29; DS=10.44; range 283-321) and G3 (mean 318.51; DS=14.36; range 295.5-339.2) - (p<0.05); differences in dentine VHN were observed between G1 (mean 74.73; DS=6.62; range 63.9-88.1) and G3 (mean 64.54; DS=5.55; range 51.2-72.3) - (p<0.05). G3 teeth presented a slightly lower VHN compared to G1, probably due to some little structural differences among groups, and were dramatically harder than the diaphanised teeth. The described technique, thus, can be considered ideal for testing endodontic instruments and for teaching purposes.

Concepts: Hardness, Incisor, Lens, Statistics, Carl Zeiss, Canine tooth, Teeth, Vickers hardness test


Previous work from the Framingham Heart Study suggests that brain changes because of arterial aging may begin in young adulthood and that such changes precede cognitive deficits. The objective of this study was to determine the association of arterial stiffness with measures of white matter and gray matter (GM) integrity in young adults.

Concepts: The Association, Adult, Neuroanatomy, Central nervous system, Galen, Hardness, Framingham Heart Study, Framingham, Massachusetts