Measurement of the full-field polymerization shrinkage and depth of cure of dental composites using digital image correlation

Jianying Li, Alex Fok, Julian Satterthwaite, David C. Watts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Objectives: The aim of this study was to measure the full-field polymerization shrinkage of dental composites using optical image correlation method. Methods: Bar specimens of cross-section 4 mm × 2 mm and length 10 mm approximately were light cured with two irradiances, 450 mW/cm2 and 180 mW/cm2, respectively. The curing light was generated with Optilux 501 (Kerr) and the two different irradiances were achieved by adjusting the distance between the light tip and the specimen. A single-camera 2D measuring system was used to record the deformation of the composite specimen for 30 min at a frequency of 0.1 Hz. The specimen surface under observation was sprayed with paint to produce sufficient contrast to allow tracking of individual points on the surface. The curing light was applied to one end of the specimen for 40 s during which the painted surface was fully covered. After curing, the cover was removed immediately so that deformation of the painted surface could be recorded by the camera. The images were then analyzed with specialist software and the volumetric shrinkage determined along the beam length. Results: A typical shrinkage strain field obtained on a specimen surface was highly non-uniform, even at positions of constant distance from the irradiation surface, indicating possible heterogeneity in material composition and shrinkage behavior in the composite. The maximum volumetric shrinkage strain of ∼1.5% occurred at a subsurface distance of about 1 mm, instead of at the irradiation surface. After reaching its peak value, the shrinkage strain then gradually decreased with increasing distance along the beam length, before leveling off to a value of approximately 0.2% at a distance of 4-5 mm. The maximum volumetric shrinkage obtained agreed well with the value of 1.6% reported by the manufacturer for the composite examined in this work. Using irradiance of 180 mW/cm2 resulted in only slightly less polymerization shrinkage than using irradiance of 450 mW/cm2. Significance: Compared to the other measurement methods, the image correlation method is capable of producing full-field information about the polymerization shrinkage behavior of dental composites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)582-588
Number of pages7
JournalDental Materials
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2009


  • Dental composite
  • Depth of cure
  • Image correlation
  • Polymerization shrinkage


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