Non-destructive examination of interfacial debonding using acoustic emission

Haiyan Li, Jianying Li, Xiaofei Yun, Xiaozhou Liu, Alex Siu Lun Fok

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Objectives: This study aims to assess the viability of using the acoustic emission (AE) measurement technique to detect and monitor in situ the interfacial debonding in resin composite restorations due to build-up of shrinkage stresses during polymerization of the composite. Materials and methods: The non-destructive testing technique that measures acoustic emission (AE) was used to detect and monitor the interfacial debonding in resin composite during curing of the composite. Four groups of specimens, n = 4 each, were tested: (1) intact human molars with Class-I cavities restored with the composite Z100 (3M ESPE, USA); (2) intact human molars with Class-I cavities restored with the composite Filtek™ P90 (3M ESPE, USA); (3) ring samples prepared from the root of a single bovine tooth and 'restored' with Z100; (4) freestanding pea-size specimens of Z100 directly placed on the AE sensor. The restorations in Groups (1)-(3) were bonded to the tooth tissues with the adhesive Adper™ Scotchbond™ SE Self-Etch (3M ESPE, USA). The composites in all the specimens were cured with a blue light (3M ESPE, USA) for 40 s. The AE signals were recorded continuously for 10 min from the start of curing. Non-destructive 3D imaging was performed using X-ray micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) to examine the bonding condition at the tooth-restoration interface. Results: The development of AE events followed roughly that of the shrinkage stress, which was determined separately by the cantilever beam method. The number of AE events in the real human tooth samples was more than that in the ring samples, and no AE events were detected in the pea-size specimens placed directly on the AE sensor. The number of AE events recorded in the specimens restored using Z100 was more than that found in specimens restored with Filtek P90. The micro-CT imaging results showed clear interfacial debondings in the tooth specimens restored with Z100 after curing, but no clear debonding was found in the P90 specimens. Conclusions: The AE technique is an effective tool for detecting and monitoring in situ the interfacial debonding of composite restorations during curing. It can potentially be employed to evaluate the development of shrinkage stress and the quality of interfacial bonds in teeth restored with different composite materials, cavity geometries, and restorative techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)964-971
Number of pages8
JournalDental Materials
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was partially supported by a University of Minnesota Grant-in-Aid . The authors would like to acknowledge 3M ESPE for providing the restorative materials, the Minnesota Dental Research Center for Biomaterials and Biomechanics (MDRCBB) for providing the testing devices, and Professor Joseph Labuz (Civil Engineering, University of Minnesota) for providing consultancy on the AE technique used for this study. Xiaozhou Liu and Xiaofei Yun would like to thank China Scholarship Council for providing them with State scholarships to support their study visits to the MDRCBB.


  • Acoustic emission
  • Composite resins
  • Dental restoration
  • Interfacial debonding
  • Micro-CT
  • Shrinkage


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