An investigation of the microstructure and mechanical properties of electrochemically coated Ag4Sn dental alloy particles condensed in vitro

Jose Antonio Marquez, University of Texas at El Paso


As part of the ongoing scientific effort to develop a new amalgam-like material without mercury, a team of metallurgists and electrochemists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland, announced in 1993 the development of a new Ag-Sn dental alloy system without mercury that sought to replace conventional dental amalgams. They used spherical Ag3Sn and Ag4Sn intermetallic dental alloy particles, commonly used in conventional dental alloys, and coated them with electrodeposited silver with newly-developed electrolytic and immersion techniques. The particles had relatively pure silver coatings that were closely adherent to the intermetalfic cores. ^ These silver-coated particles, due to silver's plasticity at room temperature, were condensed into Plexiglas® molds with the aid of an acidic surface activating solution (HBF4) and a mechanical condensing device, producing a metal-matrix composite with Ag3,4Sn filler particles surrounded by a cold-welded silver matrix. Since silver strain hardens rather easily, the layers had to be condensed in less than 0.5 mm increments to obtain a dense structure. Mechanical testing at NIST produced compressive strength values equal to or greater than those of conventional dental amalgams. ^ Because of its potential for eliminating mercury as a constituent in dental amalgam, this material created a stir in dental circles when first developed and conceivably could prove to be a major breakthrough in the field of dental restoratives. To date, the chief impediments to its approval for human clinical applications by the Food and Drug Administration are the potentially-toxic surface activating solution used for oxide reduction, and the high condensation pressures needed for cold welding because of the tendency for silver to strain harden. ^ In this related study, the author, who has practiced general dentistry for 25 years, evaluates some of the mechanical and microstructural properties of these electrochemically coated particles when they are amalgamated with mercury. Because of patent restrictions for the coated particles that protect the cold-welding work being done at NIST, these particles necessarily had to include mercury as a constituent for this investigation. (Abstract shortened by UMI.) ^

Subject Area

Engineering, Biomedical|Health Sciences, Dentistry|Engineering, Metallurgy|Engineering, Materials Science

Recommended Citation

Marquez, Jose Antonio, "An investigation of the microstructure and mechanical properties of electrochemically coated Ag4Sn dental alloy particles condensed in vitro" (1999). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI9947586.