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Atomic Force Microscopy Reveals Nanoscale Dental Erosion from Beverages
KAIST researchers used atomic force microscopy to quantitatively evaluate how acidic and sugary drinks affect human tooth enamel at the nanoscale level. This novel approach is useful for measuring mechanical and morphological changes that occur over time during enamel erosion induced by beverages. Enamel is the hard-white substance that forms the outer part of a tooth. It is the hardest substance in the human body, even stronger than bone. Its resilient surface is 96 percent mineral, the highest percentage of any body tissue, making it durable and damage-resistant. The enamel acts as a barrier to protect the soft inner layers of the tooth, but can become susceptible to degradation by acids and sugars. Enamel erosion occurs when the tooth enamel is overexposed to excessive consumption of acidic and sugary food and drinks. The loss of enamel, if left untreated, can lead to various tooth conditions including stains, fractures, sensitivity, and translucence. Once tooth enamel is damaged, it cannot be brought back. Therefore, thorough studies on how enamel erosion starts and develops, especially at the initial stages, are of high scientific and clinical relevance for dental health maintenance. A research team led by Professor Seungbum Hong from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at KAIST reported a new method of applying atomic force microscopy (AFM) techniques to study the nanoscale characterization of this early stage of enamel erosion. This study was introduced in the Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials (JMBBM) on June 29. AFM is a very-high-resolution type of scanning probe microscopy (SPM), with demonstrated resolution on the order of fractions of a nanometer (nm) that is equal to one billionth of a meter. AFM generates images by scanning a small cantilever over the surface of a sample, and this can precisely measure the structure and mechanical properties of the sample, such as surface roughness and elastic modulus. The co-lead authors of the study, Dr. Panpan Li and Dr. Chungik Oh, chose three commercially available popular beverages, Coca-Cola®, Sprite®, and Minute Maid® orange juice, and immersed tooth enamel in these drinks over time to analyze their impacts on human teeth and monitor the etching process on tooth enamel. Five healthy human molars were obtained from volunteers between age 20 and 35 who visited the KAIST Clinic. After extraction, the teeth were preserved in distilled water before the experiment. The drinks were purchased and opened right before the immersion experiment, and the team utilized AFM to measure the surface topography and elastic modulus map. The researchers observed that the surface roughness of the tooth enamel increased significantly as the immersion time increased, while the elastic modulus of the enamel surface decreased drastically. It was demonstrated that the enamel surface roughened five times more when it was immersed in beverages for 10 minutes, and that the elastic modulus of tooth enamel was five times lower after five minutes in the drinks. Additionally, the research team found preferential etching in scratched tooth enamel. Brushing your teeth too hard and toothpastes with polishing particles that are advertised to remove dental biofilms can cause scratches on the enamel surface, which can be preferential sites for etching, the study revealed. Professor Hong said, “Our study shows that AFM is a suitable technique to characterize variations in the morphology and mechanical properties of dental erosion quantitatively at the nanoscale level.” This work was supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF), the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT), and the KUSTAR-KAIST Institute of Korea. A dentist at the KAIST Clinic, Dr. Suebean Cho, Dr. Sangmin Shin from the Smile Well Dental, and Professor Kack-Kyun Kim at the Seoul National University School of Dentistry also collaborated in this project. Publication: Li, P., et al. (2020) ‘Nanoscale effects of beverages on enamel surface of human teeth: An atomic force microscopy study’. Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials (JMBBM), Volume 110. Article No. 103930. Available online at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmbbm.2020.103930 Profile: Seungbum Hong, Ph.D. Associate Professor firstname.lastname@example.org http://mii.kaist.ac.kr/ Materials Imaging and Integration (MII) Lab. Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) https://www.kaist.ac.kr Daejeon 34141, Korea (END)
Visualization of Functional Components to Characterize Optimal Composite Electrodes
Researchers have developed a visualization method that will determine the distribution of components in battery electrodes using atomic force microscopy. The method provides insights into the optimal conditions of composite electrodes and takes us one step closer to being able to manufacture next-generation all-solid-state batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are widely used in smart devices and vehicles. However, their flammability makes them a safety concern, arising from potential leakage of liquid electrolytes. All-solid-state lithium ion batteries have emerged as an alternative because of their better safety and wider electrochemical stability. Despite their advantages, all-solid-state lithium ion batteries still have drawbacks such as limited ion conductivity, insufficient contact areas, and high interfacial resistance between the electrode and solid electrolyte. To solve these issues, studies have been conducted on composite electrodes in which lithium ion conducting additives are dispersed as a medium to provide ion conductive paths at the interface and increase the overall ionic conductivity. It is very important to identify the shape and distribution of the components used in active materials, ion conductors, binders, and conductive additives on a microscopic scale for significantly improving the battery operation performance. The developed method is able to distinguish regions of each component based on detected signal sensitivity, by using various modes of atomic force microscopy on a multiscale basis, including electrochemical strain microscopy and lateral force microscopy. For this research project, both conventional electrodes and composite electrodes were tested, and the results were compared. Individual regions were distinguished and nanoscale correlation between ion reactivity distribution and friction force distribution within a single region was determined to examine the effect of the distribution of binder on the electrochemical strain. The research team explored the electrochemical strain microscopy amplitude/phase and lateral force microscopy friction force dependence on the AC drive voltage and the tip loading force, and used their sensitivities as markers for each component in the composite anode. This method allows for direct multiscale observation of the composite electrode in ambient condition, distinguishing various components and measuring their properties simultaneously. Lead author Dr. Hongjun Kim said, “It is easy to prepare the test sample for observation while providing much higher spatial resolution and intensity resolution for detected signals.” He added, “The method also has the advantage of providing 3D surface morphology information for the observed specimens.” Professor Seungbum Hong from the Department of Material Sciences and Engineering said, “This analytical technique using atomic force microscopy will be useful for quantitatively understanding what role each component of a composite material plays in the final properties.” “Our method not only will suggest the new direction for next-generation all-solid-state battery design on a multiscale basis but also lay the groundwork for innovation in the manufacturing process of other electrochemical materials.” This study is published in ACS Applied Energy Materials and supported by the Big Science Research and Development Project under the Ministry of Science and ICT and the National Research Foundation of Korea, the Basic Research Project under the Wearable Platform Materials Technology Center, and KAIST Global Singularity Research Program for 2019 and 2020. Publication:Kim, H, et al. (2020) ‘Visualization of Functional Components in a Lithium Silicon Titanium Phosphate-Natural Graphite Composite Anode’. ACS Applied Energy Materials, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp. 3253-3261. Available online at https://doi.org/10.1021/acsaem.9b02045 Profile: Seungbum Hong Professor email@example.com http://mii.kaist.ac.kr/ Materials Imaging and Integration Laboratory Department of Material Sciences and Engineering KAIST
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