February 10, 2022
by Lauren J. Young, Popular Science
Materials scientists and chemical engineers from Beihang University, Peking University, and the University of Michigan have created a synthetic tooth enamel that’s even stronger than what’s found in our teeth. They described their crowning achievement in a study published on February 3 in Science. The biomimetic tooth enamel was modeled after nature’s original design, but tweaked in the lab to withstand even more wear and tear. While other engineers have been able to recreate certain parts of this hard outer layer, this new approach took into account both the stiff and elastic components to more closely resemble the composition and structure of the real substance.
“Tooth enamel possesses outstanding viscoelasticity to endure vibration and deformational damage for ultra-long time service,” writes Hewei Zhao, the lead author of the paper and chemical engineer at Beihang University in Beijing, in an email. “These properties are traditionally considered as trade-offs. This is unusual in [human-made] materials and gave us motivation to study it.”