(19)
(11)EP 3 663 271 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION
published in accordance with Art. 153(4) EPC

(43)Date of publication:
10.06.2020 Bulletin 2020/24

(21)Application number: 18840164.0

(22)Date of filing:  27.07.2018
(51)Int. Cl.: 
C04B 35/486  (2006.01)
A61C 13/083  (2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/JP2018/028324
(87)International publication number:
WO 2019/026810 (07.02.2019 Gazette  2019/06)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR
Designated Extension States:
BA ME
Designated Validation States:
KH MA MD TN

(30)Priority: 31.07.2017 JP 2017147545

(71)Applicant: Kuraray Noritake Dental Inc.
Kurashiki-shi Okayama 710-0801 (JP)

(72)Inventor:
  • KUDO, Yasutaka
    Miyoshi-shi Aichi 470-0293 (JP)

(74)Representative: D Young & Co LLP 
120 Holborn
London EC1N 2DY
London EC1N 2DY (GB)

  


(54)METHOD FOR PRODUCING POWDER CONTAINING ZIRCONIA PARTICLES AND FLUORESCENT AGENT


(57) The present invention provides a method for producing a powder containing zirconia particles and a fluorescent agent that enables easy production of a zirconia sintered body having both high translucency and high strength despite containing a fluorescent agent. The present invention relates to a method for producing a zirconia particle- and fluorescent agent-containing powder, comprising: a mixing step of mixing a zirconia particle-containing slurry and a liquid-state fluorescent agent; and a drying step of drying the slurry containing the zirconia particles and the fluorescent agent. Preferably, the fluorescent agent comprises a metallic element, and the powder comprises the fluorescent agent in an amount of 0.001 to 1 mass% in terms of an oxide of the metallic element relative to a mass of zirconia. Preferably, the zirconia particles have an average primary particle diameter of 30 nm or less. Preferably, the zirconia particles comprises 2.0 to 9.0 mol% yttria.


Description

TECHNICAL FIELD



[0001] The present invention relates to a method for producing a powder containing zirconia particles and a fluorescent agent, among others.

BACKGROUND ART



[0002] A zirconia sintered body has been used for dental materials such as dental prostheses. Many of such dental prostheses are produced by forming a zirconia shaped body of a desired shape, for example, a disc or prism shape, through the process of pressing zirconia particles or shaping a composition containing zirconia particles, followed by calcination of the zirconia shaped body into a calcined body (mill blank), and subsequent sintering of the zirconia calcined body after cutting (milling) it into the shape of the desired dental prosthesis.

[0003] Incidentally, natural human teeth have fluorescence. This is problematic in dental prostheses because a dental prosthesis, when it is not fluorescent, appears as missing as it fails to fluoresce in an ultraviolet environment, for example, such as in an amusement facility lit with blacklights. One approach to overcoming this issue is to add a fluorescent agent to the dental prosthesis. A zirconia sintered body containing a fluorescent agent is known, for example, such as that described in Patent Literature 1.

CITATION LIST


Patent Literature



[0004] Patent Literature 1: JP 2016-540772 A

SUMMARY OF INVENTION


Technical Problem



[0005] There are instances where a zirconia sintered body is required to have both high translucency and high strength. However, the present inventor found that the strength seriously decreases, and the translucency decreases way below the anticipated value when a fluorescent agent is simply added to a zirconia sintered body.

[0006] It is accordingly an object of the present invention to provide a method for producing a powder containing zirconia particles and a fluorescent agent that enables easy production of a zirconia sintered body having both high translucency and high strength despite containing a fluorescent agent. Another object of the present invention is to provide a powder obtained by using such a method, a method for producing a zirconia shaped body by using the powder, a zirconia shaped body obtained by using the method thereof, a method for producing a zirconia calcined body by using the powder, a zirconia calcined body obtained by using the method thereof, a method for producing a zirconia sintered body by using the powder, and a zirconia sintered body obtained by using the method thereof.

Solution to Problem



[0007] The present inventor conducted intensive studies to achieve the foregoing objects, and found that a zirconia sintered body having both high translucency and high strength despite containing a fluorescent agent can be obtained with ease when a liquid-state fluorescent agent is added to a zirconia particle-containing slurry during the production of a powder to be used to produce a zirconia sintered body. The present inventor completed the present invention after further studies based on this finding.

[0008] Specifically, the present invention relates to the following [1] to [24].
  1. [1] A method for producing a zirconia particle- and fluorescent agent-containing powder, comprising: a mixing step of mixing a zirconia particle-containing slurry and a liquid-state fluorescent agent; and a drying step of drying the slurry containing the zirconia particles and the fluorescent agent.
  2. [2] The method according to [1], wherein the fluorescent agent comprises a metallic element, and the powder comprises the fluorescent agent in an amount of 0.001 to 1 mass% in terms of an oxide of the metallic element relative to a mass of zirconia.
  3. [3] The method according to [1] or [2], wherein the zirconia particles have an average primary particle diameter of 30 nm or less.
  4. [4] The method according to any one of [1] to [3], wherein the zirconia particles comprise 2.0 to 9.0 mol% yttria.
  5. [5] The method according to any one of [1] to [4], wherein the drying step is any one of spray drying, supercritical drying, and freeze drying.
  6. [6] A powder obtained by the method of any one of [1] to [5].
  7. [7] A powder comprising zirconia particles and a fluorescent agent, wherein the powder has a three-point flexural strength of 500 MPa or more after a zirconia shaped body formed by shaping the powder by uniaxial pressing and subsequently subjecting the powder to cold isostatic pressing (CIP) under a pressure of 170 MPa is sintered at 1,100°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure, and has a transmittance of 35% or more for light of 700 nm wavelength through a thickness of 0.5 mm after a zirconia shaped body formed by shaping the powder by uniaxial pressing and subsequently subjecting the powder to cold isostatic pressing (CIP) under a pressure of 170 MPa is sintered at 1,100°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure.
  8. [8] A method for producing a zirconia shaped body, comprising a shaping step of shaping zirconia particles, wherein the method uses a powder obtained by the method of any one of [1] to [5], or the powder of [7].
  9. [9] The method according to [8], wherein the shaping step is a step of pressing the powder.
  10. [10] The method according to [8], wherein the shaping step is a step of shaping a composition comprising zirconia particles, a fluorescent agent, and a resin.
  11. [11] The method according to [10], wherein the composition is obtained by mixing the powder and a resin.
  12. [12] The method according to [8], wherein the shaping step is a step of polymerizing a composition comprising zirconia particles, a fluorescent agent, and a polymerizable monomer.
  13. [13] The method according to [12], wherein the composition is obtained by mixing the powder and a polymerizable monomer.
  14. [14] The method according to [12] or [13], wherein the shaping step is a stereolighography process.
  15. [15] A zirconia shaped body obtained by the method of any one of [8] to [14].
  16. [16] A method for producing a zirconia calcined body, comprising a step of calcining a zirconia shaped body obtained by the method of any one of [8] to [14].
  17. [17] The method according to [16], wherein the calcination is carried out between 300°C or more and less than 900°C.
  18. [18] A zirconia calcined body obtained by the method of [16] or [17].
  19. [19] A method for producing a zirconia sintered body, comprising a step of sintering a zirconia shaped body obtained by the method of any one of [8] to [14], under ordinary pressure.
  20. [20] The method according to [19], wherein the sintering is carried out between 900°C or more and 1,200°C or less.
  21. [21] A method for producing a zirconia sintered body, comprising a step of sintering a zirconia calcined body obtained by the method of [16] or [17], under ordinary pressure.
  22. [22] The method according to [21], wherein the sintering is carried out between 900°C or more and 1,200°C or less.
  23. [23] The method according to any one of [19] to [22], wherein the zirconia sintered body is a dental material.
  24. [24] A zirconia sintered body obtained by the method of any one of [19] to [23].

Advantageous Effects of Invention



[0009] According to the present invention, a method for producing a powder containing zirconia particles and a fluorescent agent is provided that enables easy production of a zirconia sintered body having both high translucency and high strength despite containing a fluorescent agent. The present invention also provides a powder obtained by using such a method, a method for producing a zirconia shaped body by using the powder, a zirconia shaped body obtained by using the method thereof, a method for producing a zirconia calcined body by using the powder, a zirconia calcined body obtained by using the method thereof, a method for producing a zirconia sintered body by using the powder, and a zirconia sintered body obtained by using the method thereof.

DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS



[0010] An embodiment of the present invention is described below. It is to be noted that the following descriptions do not limit the present invention.

Powder Producing Method



[0011] A method for producing a zirconia particle- and fluorescent agent-containing powder according to the present invention comprises: a mixing step of mixing a zirconia particle-containing slurry and a liquid-state fluorescent agent; and a drying step of drying the slurry containing the zirconia particles and the fluorescent agent.

Mixing Step



[0012] In the mixing step, a zirconia particle-containing slurry and a liquid-state fluorescent agent are mixed with each other. The mixing step produces a zirconia particle- and fluorescent agent-containing slurry, and a desired powder containing zirconia particles and a fluorescent agent can be obtained by drying the slurry in the drying step.

[0013] The particle size of the zirconia particles used is not particularly limited. However, for advantages such as obtaining a zirconia sintered body having improved translucency and strength, the average primary particle diameter of the zirconia particles is preferably 30 nm or less, more preferably 20 nm or less, even more preferably 15 nm or less, and may be 10 nm or less, and is preferably 1 nm or more, more preferably 5 nm or more. The average primary particle diameter of zirconia particles can be determined by, for example, taking a micrograph of zirconia particles (primary particles) with a transmission electron microscope (TEM), and finding a mean value of particle diameters (maximum diameters) measured for arbitrarily chosen 100 particles from the photographed image.

[0014] For advantages such as obtaining a zirconia sintered body having improved translucency and strength, it is preferable that the zirconia particles contain primary particles of 50 nm or more in an amount of preferably 5 mass% or less, more preferably 3 mass% or less, even more preferably 1 mass% or less. The content can be measured by using, for example, a zeta potential meter.

[0015] The yttria content in the zirconia particles used may be the same as the yttria content in the zirconia sintered body to be produced. For advantages such as obtaining a zirconia sintered body having improved translucency and strength, the yttria content in the zirconia particles is preferably 2.0 mol% or more, more preferably 3.0 mol% or more, even more preferably 4.0 mol% or more, particularly preferably 4.5 mol% or more, and may be 5.0 mol% or more, or 5.5 mol% or more, and is preferably 9.0 mol% or less, more preferably 8.0 mol% or less, even more preferably 7.0 mol% or less. It is to be noted that the yttria content in zirconia particles is a fraction (mol%) of the number of moles of yttria with respect to the total number of moles of zirconia and yttria.

[0016] The method of preparation of zirconia particles is not particularly limited, and the zirconia particles may be prepared by using, for example, a breakdown process that pulverizes coarse particles into a fine powder, or a building-up process that synthesizes particles through nucleation and nuclear growth from atoms and ions. The building-up process is more preferred for obtaining high-purity, fine zirconia particles.

[0017] The breakdown process may use, for example, a ball mill or bead mill for pulverization. Here, it is preferable to use microsize pulverization media, for example, pulverization media of 100 µm or less. Preferably, the pulverization is followed by classification.

[0018] The building-up process may be, for example, vapor-phase pyrolysis, which is a process by which an oxoacid salt of high-vapor-pressure metal ions, or a high-vapor-pressure organometallic compound is decomposed under heat through vaporization to precipitate an oxide; vapor-phase reaction, which synthesizes particles through vapor-phase chemical reaction of a high-vapor-pressure metallic compound gas with a reactive gas; evaporative concentration, in which a feedstock material is heated to evaporate, and cooled rapidly in an inert gas of a predetermined pressure to condense the steam into a fine particle form; a melt process that forms a powder by cooling and solidifying small liquid droplets of melt; solvent evaporation, which causes precipitation in a supersaturated state created by increasing the concentration by evaporating the solvent in a solution; or a precipitation process in which the solute concentration is brought to a supersaturated state through reaction with a precipitating agent or hydrolysis, and a poorly soluble compound such as an oxide and hydroxide is precipitated through nucleation and nuclear growth.

[0019] The precipitation process can be sub-divided into processes that include: homogenous precipitation in which a precipitating agent is generated in a solution by chemical reaction to eliminate local heterogeneity in the concentration of precipitating agent; coprecipitation in which a plurality of metal ions coexisting in a solution is simultaneously precipitated by addition of a precipitating agent; a hydrolysis process that produces an oxide or hydroxide through hydrolysis from a metal salt solution, an alcohol solution of metal alkoxide or the like; and solvothermal synthesis that produces an oxide or hydroxide from a high-temperature high-pressure fluid. The solvothermal synthesis is further divided into processes that include hydrothermal synthesis that uses water as solvent, and supercritical synthesis that uses a supercritical fluid such as water or carbon dioxide as solvent.

[0020] Regardless of the building-up process, it is preferable to increase the precipitation rate to obtain finer zirconia particles. Preferably, the zirconia particles produced are classified.

[0021] The zirconium source in the building-up process may be, for example, nitrate, acetate, chloride, or alkoxide. Specifically, for example, zirconium oxychloride, zirconium acetate, and zirconyl nitrate may be used.

[0022] In order to achieve the foregoing yttria content ranges in the zirconia particles, yttria may be added in the process of producing zirconia particles. For example, a solid solution of yttria may be formed in zirconia particles. The yttrium source may be, for example, nitrate, acetate, chloride, or alkoxide. Specifically, for example, yttrium chloride, yttrium acetate, and yttrium nitrate may be used.

[0023] The zirconia particle-containing slurry used in the mixing step may be one obtained through the breakdown process or building-up process described above, or may be a commercially available product.

[0024] As required, the zirconia particles may be subjected to a surface treatment in advance with a known surface treatment agent selected from, for example, organic compounds having acidic groups; fatty acid amides such as saturated fatty acid amides, unsaturated fatty acid amides, saturated fatty acid bisamides, and unsaturated fatty acid bisamides; and organometallic compounds such as silane coupling agents (organosilicon compounds), organic titanium compounds, organic zirconium compounds, and organic aluminum compounds. A surface treatment of zirconia particles allows for adjustments of miscibility with a liquid having a surface tension at 25°C of 50 mN/m or less when the dispersion medium contains such a liquid, as will be described later. A surface treatment also allows the zirconia particles to have adjusted miscibility with a polymerizable monomer, for example, when producing a zirconia shaped body using a method that includes polymerizing a composition containing zirconia particles, a fluorescent agent, and a polymerizable monomer, as will be described later. The surface treatment agent is preferably an organic compound having an acidic group because of advantages such as desirable miscibility with a liquid having a surface tension at 25°C of 50 mN/m or less, and the ability to increase the strength of the resulting zirconia shaped body by improving the chemical bonding between the zirconia particles and a polymerizable monomer.

[0025] Examples of the organic compounds having acidic groups include organic compounds having at least one acidic group, such as a phosphoric acid group, a carboxylic acid group, a pyrophosphoric acid group, a thiophosphoric acid group, a phosphonic acid group, and a sulfonic acid group. Preferred are phosphoric acid group-containing organic compounds having at least one phosphoric acid group, and carboxylic acid group-containing organic compounds having at least one carboxylic acid group, of which the phosphoric acid group-containing organic compounds are more preferred. The zirconia particles may be subjected to a surface treatment with one type of surface treatment agent, or with two or more types of surface treatment agents. In the case where the zirconia particles are subjected to a surface treatment with two or more types of surface treatment agents, the surface treatment layer produced may be a surface treatment layer of a mixture of two or more surface treatment agents, or a surface treatment layer of a multilayer structure of a plurality of surface treatment layers.

[0026] Examples of the phosphoric acid group-containing organic compounds include 2-ethylhexyl acid phosphate, stearyl acid phosphate, 2-(meth)acryloyloxyethyl dihydrogen phosphate, 3-(meth)acryloyloxypropyl dihydrogen phosphate, 4-(meth)acryloyloxybutyl dihydrogen phosphate, 5-(meth)acryloyloxypentyl dihydrogen phosphate, 6-(meth)acryloyloxyhexyl dihydrogen phosphate, 7-(meth)acryloyloxyheptyl dihydrogen phosphate, 8-(meth)acryloyloxyoctyl dihydrogen phosphate, 9-(meth)acryloyloxynonyl dihydrogen phosphate, 10-(meth)acryloyloxydecyl dihydrogen phosphate, 11-(meth)acryloyloxyundecyl dihydrogen phosphate, 12-(meth)acryloyloxydodecyl dihydrogen phosphate, 16-(meth)acryloyloxyhexadecyl dihydrogen phosphate, 20-(meth)acryloyloxyicosyl dihydrogen phosphate, bis[2-(meth)acryloyloxyethyl]hydrogen phosphate, bis[4-(meth)acryloyloxybutyl]hydrogen phosphate, bis[6-(meth)acryloyloxyhexyl]hydrogen phosphate, bis[8-(meth)acryloyloxyoctyl]hydrogen phosphate, bis[9-(meth)acryloyloxynonyl]hydrogen phosphate, bis[10-(meth)acryloyloxydecyl]hydrogen phosphate, 1,3-di(meth)acryloyloxypropyl dihydrogen phosphate, 2-(meth)acryloyloxyethylphenyl hydrogen phosphate, 2-(meth)acryloyloxyethyl-2-bromoethyl hydrogen phosphate, bis[2-(meth)acryloyloxy-(1-hydroxymethyl)ethyl]hydrogen phosphate, and acid chlorides, alkali metal salts, and ammonium salts thereof.

[0027] Examples of the carboxylic acid group-containing organic compounds include succinic acid, oxalic acid, octanoic acid, decanoic acid, stearic acid, polyacrylic acid, 4-methyloctanoic acid, neodecanoic acid, pivalic acid, 2,2-dimethylbutyric acid, 3,3-dimethylbutyric acid, 2,2-dimethylvaleric acid, 2,2-diethylbutyric acid, 3,3-diethylbutyric acid, naphthenic acid, cyclohexane dicarboxylic acid, (meth)acrylic acid, N-(meth)acryloylglycine, N-(meth)acryloylaspartic acid, O-(meth)acryloyltyrosine, N-(meth)acryloyltyrosine, N-(meth)acryloyl-p-aminobenzoic acid, N-(meth)acryloyl-o-aminobenzoic acid, p-vinyl benzoic acid, 2-(meth)acryloyloxybenzoic acid, 3-(meth)acryloyloxybenzoic acid, 4-(meth)acryloyloxybenzoic acid, N-(meth)acryloyl-5-aminosalicylic acid, N-(meth)acryloyl-4-aminosalicylic acid, 2-(meth)acryloyloxyethyl hydrogen succinate, 2-(meth)acryloyloxyethyl hydrogen phthalate, 2-(meth)acryloyloxyethyl hydrogen maleate, 2-(2-(2-methoxyethoxy)ethoxy)acetic acid (commonly known as "MEEAA"), 2-(2-methoxyethoxy)acetic acid (commonly known as "MEAA"), succinic acid mono[2-(2-methoxyethoxy)ethyl]ester, maleic acid mono[2-(2-methoxyethoxy)ethyl]ester, glutaric acid mono[2-(2-methoxyethoxy)ethyl]ester, malonic acid, glutaric acid, 6-(meth)acryloyloxyhexane-1,1-dicarboxylic acid, 9-(meth)acryloyloxynonane-1,1-dicarboxylic acid, 10-(meth)acryloyloxydecane-1,1-dicarboxylic acid, 11-(meth)acryloyloxyundecane-1,1-dicarboxylic acid, 12-(meth)acryloyloxydodecane-1,1-dicarboxylic acid, 13-(meth)acryloyloxytridecane-1,1-dicarboxylic acid, 4-(meth)acryloyloxyethyl trimellitate, 4-(meth)acryloyloxybutyl trimellitate, 4-(meth)acryloyloxyhexyl trimellitate, 4-(meth)acryloyloxydecyl trimellitate, 2-(meth)acryloyloxyethyl-3'-(meth)acryloyloxy-2'-(3,4-dicarboxybenzoyloxy)propylsuc cinate, and acid anhydrides, acid halides, alkali metal salts, and ammonium salts thereof.

[0028] It is also possible to use organic compounds having at least one acidic group different from the acidic groups mentioned above (e.g., a pyrophosphoric acid group, a thiophosphoric acid group, a phosphonic acid group, and a sulfonic acid group). For example, the organic compounds mentioned in WO 2012/042911 A1 may be used as such organic compounds.

[0029] Examples of the saturated fatty acid amides include palmitamide, stearamide, and behenamide. Examples of the unsaturated fatty acid amides include oleamide and erucamide. Examples of the saturated fatty acid bisamides include ethylene-bis-palmitamide, ethylene-bis-stearamide, and hexamethylene-bis-stearamide. Examples of the unsaturated fatty acid bisamides include ethylene-bis-oleamide, hexamethylene-bis-oleamide, and N,N'-dioleyl sebacamide.

[0030] Examples of the silane coupling agents (organosilicon compounds) include compounds represented by R1nSiX4-n (wherein R1 is a substituted or unsubstituted hydrocarbon group of 1 to 12 carbon atoms, X is an alkoxy group of 1 to 4 carbon atoms, a hydroxyl group, a halogen atom, or a hydrogen atom, and n is an integer of 0 to 3, and R1 and X each may be the same or different when a plurality of R1 and X exists).

[0031] Specific examples of the silane coupling agents (organosilicon compounds) include methyltrimethoxysilane, dimethyldimethoxysilane, phenyltrimethoxysilane, diphenyldimethoxysilane, methyltriethoxysilane, dimethyldiethoxysilane, phenyltriethoxysilane, diphenyldiethoxysilane, isobutyltrimethoxysilane, vinyltrimethoxysilane, vinyltriethoxysilane, vinyltris(β-methoxyethoxy)silane, 3,3,3-trifluoropropyltrimethoxysilane, methyl-3,3,3-trifluoropropyldimethoxysilane, β-(3,4-epoxycyclohexyl)ethyltrimethoxysilane, γ-glycidoxypropyltrimethoxysilane, γ-glycidoxypropylmethyldiethoxysilane, γ-glycidoxypropyltriethoxysilane, γ-methacryloyloxypropylmethyldimethoxysilane, γ-methacryloyloxypropylmethyldiethoxysilane, N-(β-aminoethyl) γ-aminopropylmethyldimethoxysilane, N-(β-aminoethyl) γ-aminopropyltrimethoxysilane, N-(β-aminoethyl) γ-aminopropyltriethoxysilane, γ-aminopropyltrimethoxysilane, γ-aminopropyltriethoxysilane, N-phenyl-γ-aminopropyltrimethoxysilane, γ-mercaptopropyltrimethoxysilane, trimethylsilanol, methyltrichlorosilane, methyldichlorosilane, dimethyldichlorosilane, trimethylchlorosilane, phenyltrichlorosilane, diphenyldichlorosilane, vinyltrichlorosilane, trimethylbromosilane, diethylsilane, vinyltriacetoxysilane, ω-(meth)acryloyloxyalkyltrimethoxysilane [3 to 12 carbon atoms between the (meth)acryloyloxy group and the silicon atom, for example, such as in γ-methacryloyloxypropyltrimethoxysilane], and ω-(meth)acryloyloxyalkyltriethoxysilane [3 to 12 carbon atoms between the (meth)acryloyloxy group and the silicon atom, for example, such as in γ-methacryloyloxypropyltriethoxysilane]. As used herein, the notation "(meth)acryloyl" is meant to be inclusive of both methacryloyl and acryloyl.

[0032] Among these examples, silane coupling agents having functional groups are preferred. Particularly preferred are ω-(meth)acryloyloxyalkyltrimethoxysilane [3 to 12 carbon atoms between the (meth)acryloyloxy group and the silicon atom], ω-(meth)acryloyloxyalkyltriethoxysilane [3 to 12 carbon atoms between the (meth)acryloyloxy group and the silicon atom], vinyltrimethoxysilane, vinyltriethoxysilane, vinyltriacetoxysilane, and γ-glycidoxypropyltrimethoxysilane.

[0033] Examples of the organic titanium compounds include tetramethyl titanate, tetraisopropyl titanate, tetra-n-butyl titanate, butyl titanate dimers, and tetra(2-ethylhexyl)titanate.

[0034] Examples of the organic zirconium compounds include zirconium isopropoxide, zirconium n-butoxide, zirconium acetylacetonate, zirconyl acetate.

[0035] Examples of the organic aluminum compounds include aluminum acetylacetonate, and aluminum organic acid salt chelate compounds.

[0036] The surface treatment method is not particularly limited, and may be a known method, for example, such as a method the adds the surface treatment agent by spraying it while vigorously stirring the zirconia particles, or a method that disperses or dissolves the zirconia particles and the surface treatment agent in a suitable solvent, and removes the solvent. The solvent may be a dispersion medium containing a liquid having a surface tension at 25°C of 50 mN/m or less, as will be described later. The zirconia particles and the surface treatment agent may be subjected to a reflux or a high-temperature high-pressure process (e.g., autoclaving) after being dispersed or dissolved.

[0037] In the mixing step, the zirconia particle-containing slurry and a liquid-state fluorescent agent are mixed with each other. The liquid-state fluorescent agent appears to prevent mixing of coarse particles, and enables easy production of a zirconia sintered body having both high translucency and high strength despite containing a fluorescent agent, though this is not to be construed as limiting the present invention in any ways. The liquid-state fluorescent agent may be, for example, a solution or a dispersion of a fluorescent agent, preferably a solution of a fluorescent agent. The solution is not particularly limited, and may be, for example, an aqueous solution. The aqueous solution may be, for example, a dilute nitric acid solution or a dilute hydrochloric acid solution, and may be appropriately selected according to conditions such as the type of the fluorescent agent used.

[0038] A zirconia sintered body having fluorescence can be obtained with ease by using the zirconia particle- and fluorescent agent-containing powder. The type of the fluorescent agent used in the present invention is not particularly limited, and the fluorescent agent may be one or more fluorescent agents capable of emitting fluorescence under the light of any wavelength. Examples of such fluorescent agents include those containing metallic elements. Examples of the metallic elements include Ga, Bi, Ce, Nd, Sm, Eu, Gd, Tb, Dy, and Tm. The fluorescent agent may contain one of these metallic elements alone, or may contain two or more of these metallic elements. For advantages such as enhancing the effects of the present invention, the metallic elements are preferably Ga, Bi, Eu, Gd, and Tm, more preferably Bi and Eu. The fluorescent agent used may be, for example, an oxide, hydroxide, acetate, or nitrate of the metallic elements above. The fluorescent agent may be, for example, Y2SiO5:Ce, Y2SiO5:Tb, (Y,Gd,Eu)BO3, Y2O3:Eu, YAG:Ce, ZnGa2O4:Zn, or BaMgAl10O17:Eu.

[0039] The content of the fluorescent agent is not particularly limited, and may be appropriately adjusted according to such factors as the type of fluorescent agent, and the use of the product zirconia sintered body. However, for advantages such as suitability of the product zirconia sintered body as a dental prosthesis, the powder produced has a fluorescent agent content of preferably 0.001 mass% or more, more preferably 0.005 mass% or more, even more preferably 0.01 mass% or more, and is preferably 1 mass% or less, more preferably 0.5 mass% or less, even more preferably 0.1 mass% or less in terms of an oxide of the metallic element contained in the fluorescent agent, relative to the mass of zirconia. With the fluorescent agent contained in an amount equal to or greater than these lower limits, the product zirconia sintered body can produce fluorescence comparable to that of natural human teeth. With the fluorescent agent contained in an amount equal to or less than the foregoing upper limits, decrease of translucency and strength can be reduced in the zirconia sintered body.

[0040] The zirconia particle- and fluorescent agent-containing slurry obtained by the mixing step may additionally contain a colorant and/or a translucency adjuster. With a colorant and/or a translucency adjuster additionally contained in the slurry, it is possible to obtain a powder containing these components, and, in turn, a zirconia sintered body containing these components. Preferably, the colorant and/or translucency adjuster are mixed into the zirconia particle-containing slurry in a liquid form, such as a solution or a dispersion.

[0041] With a colorant contained in the zirconia sintered body, the zirconia sintered body can have a color. The type of the colorant that can be contained in the slurry is not particularly limited, and may be selected from known pigments and known dental liquid colorants commonly used to color ceramics. The type of the colorant that can be contained in the slurry is not particularly limited, and the colorant may be a known pigment commonly used to color ceramics, or a known dental liquid colorant. Examples of the colorant include colorants containing metallic elements, specifically, oxides, composite oxides, and salts containing metallic elements such as iron, vanadium, praseodymium, erbium, chromium, nickel, and manganese. The colorant may be a commercially available colorant, for example, such as the Prettau Colour Liquid manufactured by Zirkonzahn. The slurry may contain one kind of colorant, or may contain two or more kinds of colorants.

[0042] The amount of colorant used is not particularly limited, and may be appropriately adjusted according to such factors as the type of colorant, and the use of the product zirconia sintered body. However, for advantages such as suitability of the product zirconia sintered body as a dental prosthesis, the colorant content in the powder produced is preferably 0.001 mass% or more, more preferably 0.005 mass% or more, even more preferably 0.01 mass% or more, and is preferably 5 mass% or less, more preferably 1 mass% or less, even more preferably 0.5 mass% or less, and may be 0.1 mass% or less, or 0.05 mass% or less in terms of an oxide of the metallic element contained in the colorant, relative to the mass of zirconia.

[0043] Specific examples of the translucency adjuster that can be contained in the slurry include aluminum oxide, titanium oxide, silicon dioxide, zircon, lithium silicate, and lithium disilicate. The slurry may contain one kind of translucency adjuster, or may contain two or more kinds of translucency adjusters.

[0044] The amount of translucency adjuster used is not particularly limited, and may be appropriately adjusted according to such factors as the type of translucency adjuster, and the use of the product zirconia sintered body. However, for advantages such as suitability of the product zirconia sintered body as a dental prosthesis, the powder produced has a translucency adjuster content of preferably 0.1 mass% or less relative to the mass of zirconia.

Drying Step



[0045] In the drying step, the zirconia particle- and fluorescent agent-containing slurry is dried. The drying step can produce the desired powder containing zirconia particles and a fluorescent agent.

[0046] The drying method is not particularly limited, and may be, for example, spray drying, supercritical drying, freeze drying, hot-air drying, and drying under reduced pressure. For advantages such as inhibiting particle aggregation during the drying process and obtaining a more compact zirconia sintered body, it is preferable to use any of spray drying, supercritical drying, and freeze drying, more preferably spray drying or supercritical drying, even more preferably spray drying.

[0047] The zirconia particle- and fluorescent agent-containing slurry to be subjected to the drying step may be a slurry containing water as dispersion medium. However, for advantages such as inhibiting particle aggregation during the drying process and obtaining a more compact zirconia sintered body, the slurry is preferably a slurry containing a dispersion medium other than water, for example, such as an organic solvent.

[0048] Examples of the organic solvent include alcohols such as methanol, ethanol, 1-propanol, 2-propanol, 1-butanol, 2-butanol, tert-butyl alcohol, 2-methoxyethanol, 2-ethoxyethanol, 2-(2-ethoxyethoxy)ethanol, diethylene glycol monobutyl ether, and glycerin; ketones such as acetone, and methyl ethyl ketone; ethers such as tetrahydrofuran, diethyl ether, diisopropyl ether, and 1,4-dioxane, and dimethoxyethane (including modified ethers such as propylene glycol monomethyl ether acetate (commonly known as "PGMEA"), preferably ether-modified ethers and/or ester-modified ethers, more preferably ether-modified alkylene glycols and/or ester-modified alkylene glycols); esters such as ethyl acetate and butyl acetate; hydrocarbons such as hexane and toluene; and halogenated hydrocarbons such as chloroform and carbon tetrachloride. These organic solvents may be used alone, or two or more thereof may be used in combination. Considering safety against the body and ease of removal, the organic solvent is preferably a water-soluble organic solvent. Specifically, the organic solvent is more preferably ethanol, 2-propanol, tert-butyl alcohol, 2-ethoxyethanol, 2-(2-ethoxyethoxy)ethanol, propylene glycol monomethyl ether acetate, acetone, or tetrahydrofuran.

[0049] When using spray drying in particular, it is preferable that the dispersion medium in the zirconia particle- and fluorescent agent-containing slurry to be subjected to the drying step contain a liquid having a surface tension at 25°C of 50 mN/m or less because it enables a more compact zirconia sintered body to be obtained by inhibiting particle aggregation during the drying process. From this viewpoint, the surface tension of the liquid is preferably 40 mN/m or less, more preferably 30 mN/m or less.

[0050] The surface tension at 25°C may be a value from, for example, the Handbook of Chemistry and Physics. For liquids that are not included in this reference, the values recited in WO 2014/126034 A1 are usable. The surface tensions at 25°C of liquids that are not included in either of these documents may be determined by using a known measurement method, for example, such as the ring method or the Wilhelmy method. Preferably, the surface tension at 25°C is measured using the automatic surface tensiometer CBVP-Z manufactured by Kyowa Interface Science Co., Ltd., or the SIGMA702 manufactured by KSV Instruments Ltd.

[0051] The liquid may be an organic solvent having the foregoing ranges of surface tension. The organic solvent may be any of the organic solvents exemplified above and having the foregoing ranges of surface tension. However, for advantages such as inhibiting particle aggregation during the drying process and obtaining a more compact zirconia sintered body, the organic solvent is preferably at least one selected from the group consisting of methanol, ethanol, 2-methoxyethanol, 1,4-dioxane, 2-ethoxyethanol, and 2-(2-ethoxyethoxy)ethanol, more preferably at least one selected from the group consisting of methanol, ethanol, 2-ethoxyethanol, and 2-(2-ethoxyethoxy)ethanol.

[0052] For advantages such as inhibiting particle aggregation during the drying process and obtaining a more compact zirconia sintered body, the content of the liquid in the dispersion medium is preferably 50 mass% or more, more preferably 80 mass% or more, even more preferably 95 mass% or more, particularly preferably 99 mass% or more.

[0053] A slurry containing a dispersion medium other than water can be obtained by replacing the dispersion medium in a slurry containing water as dispersion medium. The method used to replace the dispersion medium is not particularly limited. For example, a method may be used that removes water after adding a dispersion medium other than water (e.g., an organic solvent) to a slurry containing water as dispersion medium. In removing water, part or all of the dispersion medium other than water may be removed with water. The process of adding a dispersion medium other than water and the subsequent removal of water may be repeated multiple times. Alternatively, a method may be used that precipitates the dispersoid after adding a dispersion medium other than water to a slurry containing water as dispersion medium. It is also possible to replace the dispersion medium with a specific organic solvent in a slurry containing water as dispersion medium, followed by further replacement with another organic solvent. The liquid-state fluorescent agent may be added after the replacement of dispersion medium. However, for advantages such as obtaining a more homogenous zirconia sintered body of improved physical properties, the fluorescent agent is added preferably before the replacement of dispersion medium. Similarly, for advantages such as obtaining a more homogenous zirconia sintered body of improved physical properties, it is preferable to add a colorant and/or a translucency adjuster before the replacement of dispersion medium when adding a colorant and/or a translucency adjuster to the slurry, though these may be added after the dispersion medium is replaced.

[0054] The zirconia particle- and fluorescent agent-containing slurry to be subjected to the drying step may be subjected to a dispersion process that involves heat and pressure, for example, such as a reflux process or a hydrothermal treatment. The zirconia particle- and fluorescent agent-containing slurry to be subjected to the drying step may be subjected to a mechanical dispersion process using, for example, a roller mill, a colloid mill, a high-pressure spray disperser, an ultrasonic disperser, a vibration mill, a planetary mill, or a bead mill. The slurry may be subjected to one of these processes, or two or more of these processes.

[0055] The zirconia particle- and fluorescent agent-containing slurry to be subjected to the drying step may contain one or more other components, for example, such as a binder, a plasticizer, a dispersant, an emulsifier, an antifoaming agent, a pH adjuster, and a lubricant. By containing such other components (particularly, for example, a binder, a dispersant, and an antifoaming agent), it may be possible to inhibit particle aggregation during the drying process, and obtain a more compact zirconia sintered body.

[0056] Examples of the binder include polyvinyl alcohol, methylcellulose, carboxymethylcellulose, acrylic binders, wax binders, polyvinyl butyral, polymethylmethacrylate, and ethylcellulose.

[0057] Examples of the plasticizer include polyethylene glycol, glycerin, propylene glycol, and dibutyl phthalic acid.

[0058] Examples of the dispersant include ammonium polycarboxylates (e.g., triammonium citrate), ammonium polyacrylates, acryl copolymer resins, acrylic acid ester copolymers, polyacrylic acids, bentonite, carboxymethylcellulose, anionic surfactants (for example, polyoxyethylene alkyl ether phosphate esters such as polyoxyethylene lauryl ether phosphate ester), non-ionic surfactants, oleic glycerides, amine surfactants, and oligosugar alcohols.

[0059] Examples of the emulsifier include alkyl ethers, phenyl ether, sorbitan derivatives, and ammonium salts.

[0060] Examples of the antifoaming agent include alcohols, polyethers, polyethylene glycol, silicone, and waxes.

[0061] Examples of the pH adjuster include ammonia, ammonium salts (including ammonium hydroxides such as tetramethylammonium hydroxide), alkali metal salts, and alkali-earth metal salts.

[0062] Examples of the lubricant include polyoxyethylene alkylate ether, and waxes.

[0063] For advantages such as inhibiting particle aggregation during the drying process and obtaining a more compact zirconia sintered body, the moisture content in the zirconia particle- and fluorescent agent-containing slurry to be subjected to the drying step is preferably 3 mass% or less, more preferably 1 mass% or less, even more preferably 0.1 mass% or less. The moisture content may be measured with a Karl Fisher moisture content meter.

[0064] The drying conditions in the foregoing drying methods are not particularly limited, and may be appropriately selected from known drying conditions. When using an organic solvent as dispersion medium, it is preferable that drying be carried out in the presence of a nonflammable gas, more preferably in the presence of nitrogen, in order to reduce the risk of explosion during the drying process.

[0065] In the case of supercritical drying, the supercritical fluid is not particularly limited, and may be, for example, water or carbon dioxide. However, for advantages such as inhibiting particle aggregation and obtaining a more compact zirconia sintered body, the supercritical fluid is preferably carbon dioxide.

Powder



[0066] The desired powder can be produced by using the foregoing method. The content of the fluorescent agent in the powder may be appropriately adjusted according to, for example, the content of the fluorescent agent in the zirconia sintered body to be produced. Specifically, the content of the fluorescent agent contained in the powder is preferably 0.001 mass% or more, more preferably 0.005 mass% or more, even more preferably 0.01 mass% or more, and is preferably 1 mass% or less, more preferably 0.5 mass% or less, even more preferably 0.1 mass% or less in terms of an oxide of the metallic element contained in the fluorescent agent, relative to the mass of the zirconia contained in the powder.

[0067] When producing a zirconia sintered body containing a colorant, it is preferable that the colorant be contained in the powder. The colorant content in the powder may be appropriately adjusted according to, for example, the content of the colorant in the zirconia sintered body to be produced. Specifically, the colorant content in the powder is preferably 0.001 mass% or more, more preferably 0.005 mass% or more, even more preferably 0.01 mass% or more, and is preferably 5 mass% or less, more preferably 1 mass% or less, even more preferably 0.5 mass% or less, and may be 0.1 mass% or less, or 0.05 mass% or less in terms of an oxide of the metallic element contained in the colorant, relative to the mass of the zirconia contained in the powder.

[0068] When producing a zirconia sintered body containing a translucency adjuster, it is preferable that the translucency adjuster be contained in the powder. The content of the translucency adjuster in the powder may be appropriately adjusted according to, for example, the content of the translucency adjuster in the zirconia sintered body to be produced. Specifically, the translucency adjuster content in the powder is preferably 0.1 mass% or less relative to the mass of the zirconia contained in the powder.

[0069] The yttria content in the powder may be the same as the yttria content in the zirconia sintered body to be produced. Specifically, the yttria content in the powder is preferably 2.0 mol% or more, more preferably 3.0 mol% or more, even more preferably 4.0 mol% or more, particularly preferably 4.5 mol% or more, and may be 5.0 mol% or more, or 5.5 mol% or more, and is preferably 9.0 mol% or less, more preferably 8.0 mol% or less, even more preferably 7.0 mol% or less. It is to be noted that the yttria content in the powder is a fraction (mol%) of the number of moles of yttria with respect to the total number of moles of zirconia and yttria.

[0070] Preferably, a powder produced by using the foregoing method has a crystal grain size of 180 nm or less after a zirconia shaped body formed by shaping the powder by uniaxial pressing and subsequently subjecting the powder to cold isostatic pressing (CIP) under a pressure of 170 MPa is sintered at 1,100°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure (after the powder is formed into a zirconia sintered body; the sintering performed under these conditions may be preceded by calcination at 700°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure). In this way, a zirconia sintered body having high translucency can be produced with ease. For advantages such as obtaining a zirconia sintered body having even higher translucency, the crystal grain size is more preferably 140 nm or less, even more preferably 120 nm or less, particularly preferably 115 nm or less, and may be 110 nm or less. The lower limit of crystal grain size is not particularly limited, and the crystal grain size may be, for example, 50 nm or more, or 100 nm or more. The crystal grain size may be measured by using the method described below for the measurement of the crystal grain size of the zirconia shaped body.

[0071] Preferably, a powder produced by using the foregoing method has a three-point flexural strength of 400 MPa or more after a zirconia shaped body formed by shaping the powder by uniaxial pressing and subsequently subjecting the powder to cold isostatic pressing (CIP) under a pressure of 170 MPa is sintered at 1,100°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure (after the powder is formed into a zirconia sintered body; the sintering performed under these conditions may be preceded by calcination at 700°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure). In this way, a zirconia sintered body having high strength can be produced with ease. For advantages such as obtaining a zirconia sintered body having even higher strength, the three-point flexural strength is more preferably 500 MPa or more, even more preferably 600 MPa or more, particularly preferably 650 MPa or more, most preferably 700 MPa or more, and may be 800 MPa or more. The upper limit of three-point flexural strength is not particularly limited, and the three-point flexural strength may be, for example, 1,500 MPa or less, or 1,000 MPa or less. The three-point flexural strength may be measured by using the method described below for the measurement of the three-point flexural strength of the zirconia shaped body.

[0072] Preferably, a powder produced by using the foregoing method has a transmittance of 35% or more for light of 700 nm wavelength through a thickness of 0.5 mm after a zirconia shaped body formed by shaping the powder by uniaxial pressing and subsequently subjecting the powder to cold isostatic pressing (CIP) under a pressure of 170 MPa is sintered at 1,100°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure (after the powder is formed into a zirconia sintered body; the sintering performed under these conditions may be preceded by calcination at 700°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure). In this way, a zirconia sintered body having high translucency can be produced with ease. For advantages such as obtaining a zirconia sintered body having even higher translucency, the transmittance is more preferably 40% or more, even more preferably 45% or more, and may be 46% or more, 48% or more, 50% or more, or 52% or more. The upper limit of transmittance is not particularly limited, and the transmittance may be, for example, 60% or less, or 57% or less. The transmittance may be measured by using the method described below for the measurement of the transmittance of the zirconia shaped body.

[0073] The method of the present invention described above can produce a zirconia particle- and fluorescent agent-containing powder that enables easy production of a zirconia sintered body having both high translucency and high strength despite containing a fluorescent agent. For example, the powder may have a three-point flexural strength of 500 MPa or more after a zirconia shaped body formed by shaping the powder by uniaxial pressing and subsequently subjecting the powder to cold isostatic pressing (CIP) under a pressure of 170 MPa is sintered at 1,100°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure (after the powder is formed into a zirconia sintered body; the sintering performed under these conditions may be preceded by calcination at 700°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure), and a transmittance of 35% or more for light of 700 nm wavelength through a thickness of 0.5 mm after a zirconia shaped body formed by shaping the powder by uniaxial pressing and subsequently subjecting the powder to cold isostatic pressing (CIP) under a pressure of 170 MPa is sintered at 1,100°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure (after the powder is formed into a zirconia sintered body; the sintering performed under these conditions may be preceded by calcination at 700°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure). The present invention encompasses such a zirconia particle- and fluorescent agent-containing powder that has a three-point flexural strength of 500 MPa or more after a zirconia shaped body formed by shaping the powder by uniaxial pressing and subsequently subjecting the powder to cold isostatic pressing (CIP) under a pressure of 170 MPa is sintered at 1,100°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure (after the powder is formed into a zirconia sintered body; the sintering performed under these conditions may be preceded by calcination at 700°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure), and a transmittance of 35% or more for light of 700 nm wavelength through a thickness of 0.5 mm after a zirconia shaped body formed by shaping the powder by uniaxial pressing and subsequently subjecting the powder to cold isostatic pressing (CIP) under a pressure of 170 MPa is sintered at 1,100°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure (after the powder is formed into a zirconia sintered body; the sintering performed under these conditions may be preceded by calcination at 700°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure). The zirconia sintered body can be obtained from the powder by using the specific methods described in the Examples below.

Method of Production of Zirconia Shaped Body



[0074] The method for producing a zirconia sintered body by using the powder is not particularly limited. For example, the powder may be used to produce a zirconia shaped body, and the zirconia shaped body may be calcined to produce a zirconia calcined body, which can then be sintered to produce a zirconia sintered body. Alternatively, for example, the powder may be used to produce a zirconia shaped body, and the zirconia shaped body may be sintered to produce a zirconia sintered body. The zirconia shaped body can be produced by a method that includes a shaping step of shaping zirconia particles.

[0075] In producing a zirconia shaped body by using the method that includes a shaping step of shaping zirconia particles, the shaping step is not particularly limited. However, for advantages such as easy production of a zirconia sintered body having both high translucency and high strength despite containing a fluorescent agent, the shaping step is preferably one of the following steps:
  1. (i) a step of pressing a powder containing zirconia particles and a fluorescent agent;
  2. (ii) a step of shaping a composition containing zirconia particles, a fluorescent agent, and a resin; and
  3. (iii) a step of polymerizing a composition containing zirconia particles, a fluorescent agent, and a polymerizable monomer.

Composition Containing Zirconia Particles, Fluorescent Agent, and Resin



[0076] The method of preparation of a composition containing zirconia particles, a fluorescent agent, and a resin is not particularly limited, and the composition may be obtained by using, for example, a method in which a zirconia particle- and fluorescent agent-containing powder produced by using the foregoing method is mixed with a resin.

Composition Containing Zirconia Particles, Fluorescent Agent and Polymerizable Monomer



[0077] The method of preparation of a composition containing zirconia particles, a fluorescent agent, and a polymerizable monomer is not particularly limited, and the composition may be obtained by using, for example, a method in which a zirconia particle- and fluorescent agent-containing powder produced by using the foregoing method is mixed with a polymerizable monomer.

(i) Pressing



[0078] In producing a zirconia shaped body by the method that includes a step of pressing a powder containing zirconia particles and a fluorescent agent, the pressing is not particularly limited to specific methods, and may be achieved by using a known pressing machine. Specific examples of the pressing method include uniaxial pressing. In order to increase the density of the zirconia shaped body produced, it is preferable that uniaxial pressing be followed by cold isostatic pressing (CIP).

[0079] The zirconia particle- and fluorescent agent-containing powder used for pressing may additionally contain at least one of a colorant and a translucency adjuster such as above, and may additionally contain one or more other components, such as the binders, plasticizers, dispersants, emulsifiers, antifoaming agents, pH adjusters, and lubricants exemplified above. These components may be added at the time of preparing the powder.

(ii) Shaping of Resin-Containing Composition



[0080] In producing a zirconia shaped body by the method that includes a step of shaping a composition containing zirconia particles, a fluorescent agent, and a resin, the composition shaping method is not limited to specific methods, and the composition may be shaped by using a method, for example, such as injection molding, cast molding, and extrusion molding. It is also possible to shape the composition using a lamination shaping technique (e.g., 3D printing), for example, such as fused deposition modeling (FDM), an inkjet method, or a powder-binder lamination technique. Preferred as the shaping method are injection molding and cast molding, more preferably injection molding.

[0081] The resin is not limited to particular types of resins, and resins that function as binders may preferably be used. Specific examples of the resin include fatty acids such as paraffin wax, polyvinyl alcohol, polyethylene, a polypropylene, ethylene-vinyl acetate copolymer, polystyrene, atactic polypropylene, (meth)acrylic resin, and stearic acid. These resins may be used alone, or two or more thereof may be used in combination.

[0082] The composition containing zirconia particles, a fluorescent agent, and a resin may additionally contain at least one of a colorant and a translucency adjuster such as above, and may additionally contain one or more other components, such as the plasticizers, dispersants, emulsifiers, antifoaming agents, pH adjusters, and lubricants exemplified above.

(iii) Polymerization of Composition Containing Polymerizable Monomer



[0083] Polymerization of the composition containing zirconia particles, a fluorescent agent, and a polymerizable monomer can polymerize the polymerizable monomer in the composition, and cure the composition. In producing a zirconia shaped body by the method that includes a polymerization step, the method is not particularly limited to specific methods, and may be, for example, (a) a method that polymerizes the zirconia particle-, fluorescent agent-, and polymerizable monomer-containing composition in a mold; or (b) stereolithography (SLA) using the composition containing zirconia particles, a fluorescent agent, and a polymerizable monomer. Of these, (b) stereolithography is preferred. By stereolithography, a shape corresponding to the shape desired for the product zirconia sintered body can be imparted to the zirconia shaped body at the time of its production. This makes the stereolithography a potentially preferred method, particularly when the zirconia sintered body of the present invention is used as a dental material such as a dental prosthesis.

[0084] The type of the polymerizable monomer in the zirconia particle-, fluorescent agent-, and polymerizable monomer-containing composition is not particularly limited, and the polymerizable monomer may be one selected from monofunctional polymerizable monomers such as monofunctional (meth)acrylates, and monofunctional (meth)acrylamides, and polyfunctional polymerizable monomers such as bifunctional aromatic compounds, bifunctional aliphatic compounds, and tri and higher functional compounds. The polymerizable monomer may be used alone, or two or more thereof may be used in combination. Among these, polyfunctional polymerizable monomers are preferred, particularly when stereolithography is used.

[0085] Examples of the monofunctional (meth)acrylates include (meth)acrylates having hydroxyl groups, such as 2-hydroxyethyl(meth)acrylate, 2-hydroxypropyl(meth)acrylate, 3-hydroxypropyl(meth)acrylate, 4-hydroxybutyl(meth)acrylate, 6-hydroxyhexyl(meth)acrylate, 10-hydroxydecyl(meth)acrylate, propylene glycol mono(meth)acrylate, glycerol mono(meth)acrylate, and erythritol mono(meth)acrylate; alkyl(meth)acrylates such as methyl(meth)acrylate, ethyl(meth)acrylate, propyl(meth)acrylate, isopropyl(meth)acrylate, n-butyl(meth)acrylate, sec-butyl(meth)acrylate, t-butyl(meth)acrylate, isobutyl(meth)acrylate, n-hexyl(meth)acrylate, lauryl(meth)acrylate, cetyl(meth)acrylate, and stearyl(meth)acrylate; alicyclic(meth)acrylates, such as cyclohexyl(meth)acrylate, and isobornyl(meth)acrylate; aromatic group-containing(meth)acrylates, such as benzyl(meth)acrylate, and phenyl(meth)acrylate; and (meth)acrylates having functional groups, such as 2,3-dibromopropyl(meth)acrylate, 3-(meth)acryloyloxypropyltrimethoxysilane, and 11-(meth)acryloyloxyundecyltrimethoxysilane.

[0086] Examples of the monofunctional (meth)acrylamides include (meth)acrylamide, N-(meth)acryloylmorpholine, N,N-dimethyl(meth)acrylamide, N,N-diethyl(meth)acrylamide, N,N-di-n-propyl(meth)acrylamide, N,N-di-n-butyl(meth)acrylamide, N,N-di-n-hexyl(meth)acrylamide, N,N-di-n-octyl(meth)acrylamide, N,N-di-2-ethylhexyl(meth)acrylamide, N-hydroxyethyl(meth)acrylamide, and N,N-di(hydroxyethyl)(meth)acrylamide.

[0087] Among these monofunctional polymerizable monomers, (meth)acrylamides are preferred, and N-(meth)acryloylmorpholine, N,N-dimethyl(meth)acrylamide, and N,N-diethyl(meth)acrylamide are more preferred for their desirable polymerizability.

[0088] Examples of the bifunctional aromatic compounds include 2,2-bis((meth)acryloyloxyphenyl)propane, 2,2-bis[4-(3-acryloyloxy-2-hydroxypropoxy)phenyl]propane, 2,2-bis[4-(3-methacryloyloxy-2-hydroxypropoxy)phenyl]propane (commonly known as "Bis-GMA"), 2,2-bis(4-(meth)acryloyloxyethoxyphenyl)propane, 2,2-bis(4-(meth)acryloyloxypolyethoxyphenyl)propane, 2,2-bis(4-(meth)acryloyloxydiethoxyphenyl)propane, 2,2-bis(4-(meth)acryloyloxytetraethoxyphenyl)propane, 2,2-bis(4-(meth)acryloyloxypentaethoxyphenyl)propane, 2,2-bis(4-(meth)acryloyloxydipropoxyphenyl)propane, 2-(4-(meth)acryloyloxydiethoxyphenyl)-2-(4-(meth)acryloyloxyethoxyphenyl)propane, 2-(4-(meth)acryloyloxydiethoxyphenyl)-2-(4-(meth)acryloyloxyditriethoxyphenyl)pro pane, 2-(4-(meth)acryloyloxydipropoxyphenyl)-2-(4-(meth)acryloyloxytriethoxyphenyl)prop ane, 2,2-bis(4-(meth)acryloyloxypropoxyphenyl)propane, 2,2-bis(4-(meth)acryloyloxyisopropoxyphenyl)propane, and 1,4-bis(2-(meth)acryloyloxyethyl)pyromellitate. Among these, 2,2-bis[4-(3-methacryloyloxy-2-hydroxypropoxy)phenyl]propane (commonly known as "Bis-GMA"), and 2,2-bis(4-(meth)acryloyloxypolyethoxyphenyl)propane are preferred for their desirable polymerizability and ability to provide desirable strength for the zirconia shaped body produced. Preferred as 2,2-bis(4-(meth)acryloyloxypolyethoxyphenyl)propane is 2,2-bis(4-methacryloyloxypolyethoxyphenyl)propane (a compound with an average number of moles of ethoxy group added of 2.6; commonly known as "D-2.6E").

[0089] Examples of the bifunctional aliphatic compounds include glycerol di(meth)acrylate, ethylene glycol di(meth)acrylate, diethylene glycol di(meth)acrylate, triethylene glycol di(meth)acrylate, propylene glycol di(meth)acrylate, butylene glycol di(meth)acrylate, neopentyl glycol di(meth)acrylate, polyethylene glycol di(meth)acrylate, 1,3-butanediol di(meth)acrylate, 1,4-butanediol di(meth)acrylate, 1,6-hexanediol di(meth)acrylate, 2-ethyl-1,6-hexanediol di(meth)acrylate, 1,9-nonanediol di(meth)acrylate, 1,10-decanediol di(meth)acrylate, 1,2-bis(3-methacryloyloxy-2-hydroxypropoxy)ethane, and 2,2,4-trimethylhexamethylene bis(2-carbamoyloxyethyl)dimethacrylate (commonly known as "UDMA"). Among these, triethylene glycol dimethacrylate (commonly known as "TEGDMA"), and 2,2,4-trimethylhexamethylene bis(2-carbamoyloxyethyl)dimethacrylate are preferred for their desirable polymerizability and ability to provide desirable strength for the zirconia shaped body produced.

[0090] Examples of the tri and higher functional compounds include trimethylolpropane tri(meth)acrylate, trimethylolethane tri(meth)acrylate, trimethylolmethane tri(meth)acrylate, pentaerythritol tri(meth)acrylate, pentaerythritol tetra(meth)acrylate, dipentaerythritol penta(meth)acrylate, N,N-(2,2,4-trimethylhexamethylene)bis[2-(aminocarboxy)propane-1,3-diol]tetra(met h)acrylate, and 1,7-diacryloyloxy-2,2,6,6-tetra(meth)acryloyloxymethyl-4-oxyheptane. Among these, N,N-(2,2,4-trimethylhexamethylene)bis[2-(aminocarboxy)propane-1,3-diol]tetramet hacrylate, and 1,7-diacryloyloxy-2,2,6,6-tetraacryloyloxymethyl-4-oxyheptane are preferred for their desirable polymerizability and ability to provide desirable strength for the zirconia shaped body produced.

[0091] Regardless of whether the method (a) or (b) is used, it is preferable that a polymerization initiator be used for the polymerization of the composition, and that the composition contain a polymerization initiator. The type of polymerization initiator is not particularly limited, and the polymerization initiator is particularly preferably a photopolymerization initiator. The photopolymerization initiator may be appropriately selected from photopolymerization initiators commonly used in industry, preferably from photopolymerization initiators used in dentistry.

[0092] Specific examples of the photopolymerization initiator include (bis)acylphosphine oxides (including salts), thioxanthones (including salts such as quaternary ammonium salts), ketals, α-diketones, coumarins, anthraquinones, benzoinalkyl ether compounds, and α-aminoketone compounds. The photopolymerization initiator may be used alone, or two or more thereof may be used in combination. Among these, the photopolymerization initiator is preferably at least one selected from the group consisting of (bis)acylphosphine oxides and α-diketones. In this way, polymerization (gelation) can be achieved both in the ultraviolet region (including the near-ultraviolet region) and in the visible light region. Specifically, polymerization (gelation) can sufficiently proceed regardless of whether the light source is a laser such as an Ar laser or a He-Cd laser; or a light such as a halogen lamp, a xenon lamp, a metal halide lamp, a light emitting diode (LED), a mercury lamp, and a fluorescent lamp.

[0093] Examples of the acylphosphine oxides in the (bis)acylphosphine oxides include 2,4,6-trimethylbenzoyldiphenylphosphine oxide (commonly known as "TPO"), 2,6-dimethoxybenzoyldiphenylphosphine oxide, 2,6-dichlorobenzoyldiphenylphosphine oxide, 2,4,6-trimethylbenzoylmethoxyphenylphosphine oxide, 2,4,6-trimethylbenzoylethoxyphenylphosphine oxide, 2,3,5,6-tetramethylbenzoyldiphenylphosphine oxide, benzoyl di-(2,6-dimethylphenyl)phosphonate, sodium salts of 2,4,6-trimethylbenzoylphenylphosphine oxide, potassium salts of 2,4,6-trimethylbenzoyldiphenylphosphine oxide, and ammonium salts of 2,4,6-trimethylbenzoyldiphenylphosphine oxide.

[0094] Examples of the bisacylphosphine oxides in the (bis)acylphosphine oxides include bis(2,6-dichlorobenzoyl)phenylphosphine oxide, bis(2,6-dichlorobenzoyl)-2,5-dimethylphenylphosphine oxide, bis(2,6-dichlorobenzoyl)-4-propylphenylphosphine oxide, bis(2,6-dichlorobenzoyl)-1-naphthylphosphine oxide, bis(2,6-dimethoxybenzoyl)phenylphosphine oxide, bis(2,6-dimethoxybenzoyl)-2,4,4-trimethylpentylphosphine oxide, bis(2,6-dimethoxybenzoyl)-2,5-dimethylphenylphosphine oxide, bis(2,4,6-trimethylbenzoyl)phenylphosphine oxide, and bis(2,3,6-trimethylbenzoyl)-2,4,4-trimethylpentylphosphine oxide. It is also possible to use other compounds, including, for example, the compounds mentioned in JP 2000-159621 A.

[0095] Preferred among these (bis)acylphosphine oxides are 2,4,6-trimethylbenzoyldiphenylphosphine oxide, 2,4,6-trimethylbenzoylmethoxyphenylphosphine oxide, bis(2,4,6-trimethylbenzoyl)phenylphosphine oxide, and sodium salts of 2,4,6-trimethylbenzoylphenylphosphine oxide.

[0096] Examples of the α-diketones include diacetyl, benzyl, camphorquinone, 2,3-pentadione, 2,3-octadione, 9,10-phenanthrenequinone, 4,4'-oxybenzyl, and acenaphthenequinone. Preferred is camphorquinone, particularly when using a light source of the visible light region.

[0097] The composition containing zirconia particles, a fluorescent agent, and a polymerizable monomer may additionally contain at least one of a colorant and a translucency adjuster such as above, and may additionally contain one or more other components, such as the plasticizers, dispersants, emulsifiers, antifoaming agents, pH adjusters, and lubricants exemplified above.

[0098] In producing a zirconia shaped body by stereolithography using the composition containing zirconia particles, a fluorescent agent, and a polymerizable monomer, the stereolithography is not particularly limited to specific methods, and may be achieved by appropriately using a known method. For example, the desired zirconia shaped body may be obtained by forming layers of desired shapes layer-by-layer through photo-polymerization of a liquid composition with, for example, ultraviolet light or a laser, using a stereolithography device.

[0099] In obtaining the zirconia shaped body by stereolithography, the content of the zirconia particles in the zirconia particle-, fluorescent agent-, and polymerizable monomer-containing composition should preferably be as high as possible from the viewpoint of sinterability in a later step. Specifically, the zirconia particle content is preferably 20 mass% or more, more preferably 30 mass% or more, even more preferably 40 mass% or more, particularly preferably 50 mass% or more. From the principle of layer formation in stereolithography, it is preferable that the composition have a viscosity that falls in a certain range. To this end, the content of the zirconia particles in the composition is preferably 90 mass% or less, more preferably 80 mass% or less, even more preferably 70 mass% or less, particularly preferably 60 mass% or less. Adjustment of composition viscosity may be of particular importance when stereolithography is performed using the constrained surface method, in which light is applied upward through the bottom of a container to form a zirconia shaped body layer-by-layer, and when the composition needs to be smoothly flown in between the bottom surface of the previously cured layer and the bottom of the container for the formation of the next layer after the cured layer is elevated upward by the height of one layer.

[0100] Specifically, the composition has a viscosity of preferably 20,000 mPa·s or less, more preferably 10,000 mPa·s or less, even more preferably 5,000 mPa·s or less, and is preferably 100 mPa·s or more, in terms of a viscosity at 25°C. Because the viscosity of the composition tends to increase with increase of the zirconia particle content, it is preferable to appropriately adjust the balance between zirconia particle content and viscosity in the composition in a way suited for the performance and other characteristics of the stereolithography device, taking into consideration factors such as the balance between the rate of the stereolithography process and the accuracy of the zirconia shaped body produced. The viscosity may be measured with an E-type viscometer.

Zirconia Shaped Body



[0101] A zirconia shaped body containing a fluorescent agent can be obtained by using the method of production described above. The content of the fluorescent agent in the zirconia shaped body may be appropriately adjusted according to, for example, the content of the fluorescent agent in the zirconia sintered body to be produced. Specifically, the content of the fluorescent agent in the zirconia shaped body is preferably 0.001 mass% or more, more preferably 0.005 mass% or more, even more preferably 0.01 mass% or more, and is preferably 1 mass% or less, more preferably 0.5 mass% or less, even more preferably 0.1 mass% or less in terms of an oxide of the metallic element contained in the fluorescent agent, relative to the mass of the zirconia contained in the zirconia shaped body.

[0102] When producing a zirconia sintered body containing a colorant, it is preferable that the colorant be contained in the zirconia shaped body. The content of the colorant in the zirconia shaped body may be appropriately adjusted according to, for example, the content of the colorant in the zirconia sintered body to be produced. Specifically, the content of the colorant in the zirconia shaped body is preferably 0.001 mass% or more, more preferably 0.005 mass% or more, even more preferably 0.01 mass% or more, and is preferably 5 mass% or less, more preferably 1 mass% or less, even more preferably 0.5 mass% or less, and may be 0.1 mass% or less, or 0.05 mass% or less in terms of an oxide of the metallic element contained in the colorant, relative to the mass of the zirconia contained in the zirconia shaped body.

[0103] When producing a zirconia sintered body containing a translucency adjuster, it is preferable that the translucency adjuster be contained in the zirconia shaped body. The content of the translucency adjuster in the zirconia shaped body may be appropriately adjusted according to, for example, the content of the translucency adjuster in the zirconia sintered body to be produced. Specifically, the content of the translucency adjuster in the zirconia shaped body is preferably 0.1 mass% or less relative to the mass of the zirconia contained in the zirconia shaped body.

[0104] The yttria content in the zirconia shaped body may be the same as the yttria content in the zirconia sintered body to be produced. Specifically, the yttria content in the zirconia shaped body is preferably 2.0 mol% or more, more preferably 3.0 mol% or more, even more preferably 4.0 mol% or more, particularly preferably 4.5 mol% or more, and may be 5.0 mol% or more, or 5.5 mol% or more, and is preferably 9.0 mol% or less, more preferably 8.0 mol% or less, even more preferably 7.0 mol% or less. It is to be noted that the yttria content in the zirconia shaped body is a fraction (mol%) of the number of moles of yttria with respect to the total number of moles of zirconia and yttria.

[0105] The density of the zirconia shaped body is not particularly limited, and varies with factors such as the method of production of the zirconia shaped body. However, for advantages such as producing a more compact zirconia sintered body, the density is preferably 3.0 g/cm3 or more, more preferably 3.2 g/cm3 or more, even more preferably 3.4 g/cm3 or more. The upper limit of density is not particularly limited, and may be, for example, 6.0 g/cm3 or less, or 5.8 g/cm3 or less.

[0106] The shape of the zirconia shaped body is not particularly limited, and may be chosen as desired according to use. However, for example, considering ease of handing of when producing a zirconia calcined body to be used as a mill blank for producing a dental material such as a dental prosthesis, the zirconia shaped body preferably has a disc or a prism shape (e.g., rectangular). By using a technique such as stereolithography, a shape corresponding to the shape desired for the product zirconia sintered body can be imparted to the zirconia shaped body during its production, as described above. The present invention also encompasses zirconia shaped bodies having such desired shapes. The zirconia shaped body may have a monolayer structure or a multilayer structure. With a multilayered zirconia shaped body, the resulting zirconia sintered body can have a multilayer structure, which allows translucency and other physical properties to be locally altered.

[0107] For considerations such as ease of handling, the zirconia shaped body has a biaxial flexural strength in a range of preferably 2 to 10 MPa, more preferably 5 to 8 MPa. The biaxial flexural strength of zirconia shaped body can be measured in compliance with JIS T 6526:2012.

[0108] The zirconia shaped body obtained by using the method of production described above has a crystal grain size of preferably 180 nm or less after being sintered at 1,100°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure (after the zirconia shaped body is formed into a zirconia sintered body; the sintering performed under these conditions may be preceded by calcination at 700°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure). In this way, a zirconia sintered body having high translucency can be produced with ease. For advantages such as producing a zirconia sintered body having even higher translucency, the crystal grain size is more preferably 140 nm or less, even more preferably 120 nm or less, particularly preferably 115 nm or less, and may be 110 nm or less. The lower limit of crystal grain size is not particularly limited, and the crystal grain size may be, for example, 50 nm or more, or 100 nm or more. The crystal grain size of the zirconia sintered body can be determined by taking a micrograph of zirconia sintered body cross sections with a field emission scanning electron microscope (FE-SEM), and finding a mean value of diameters of circles corresponding to 10 arbitrarily selected particles from the micrograph (the diameters of true circles having the same areas as these particles).

[0109] The zirconia shaped body obtained by using the method of production described above has a three-point flexural strength of preferably 400 MPa or more after being sintered at 1,100°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure (after the zirconia shaped body is formed into a zirconia sintered body; the sintering performed under these conditions may be preceded by calcination at 700°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure). In this way, a zirconia sintered body having high strength can be produced with ease. For advantages such as producing a zirconia sintered body having even higher strength, the three-point flexural strength is more preferably 500 MPa or more, even more preferably 600 MPa or more, particularly preferably 650 MPa or more, most preferably 700 MPa or more, and may be 800 MPa or more. The upper limit of three-point flexural strength is not particularly limited, and the three-point flexural strength may be, for example, 1,500 MPa or less, or 1,000 MPa or less. The three-point flexural strength of zirconia sintered body can be measured in compliance with JIS R 1601:2008.

[0110] The zirconia shaped body obtained by using the method of production described above has a transmittance of preferably 35% or more for light of 700 nm wavelength through a thickness of 0.5 mm after being sintered at 1,100°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure (after the zirconia shaped body is formed into a zirconia sintered body; the sintering performed under these conditions may be preceded by calcination at 700°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure). In this way, a zirconia sintered body having high translucency can be produced with ease. For advantages such as producing a zirconia sintered body having even higher translucency, the transmittance is more preferably 40% or more, even more preferably 45% or more, and may be 46% or more, 48% or more, 50% or more, or 52% or more. The upper limit of transmittance is not particularly limited, and the transmittance may be, for example, 60% or less, or 57% or less. The transmittance of zirconia sintered body for light of 700 nm wavelength through a thickness of 0.5 mm may be measured with a spectrophotometer. For example, the transmittance can be measured with an integrating sphere by measuring light from a light source passing and scattering on a specimen, using a spectrophotometer (Hitachi spectrophotometer, Model U-3900H manufactured by Hitachi High-Technologies Corporation). In the measurement, the transmittance for light of 700 nm wavelength may be determined after measuring transmittance in a wavelength region of 300 to 750 nm. The specimen used for measurement may be a disc-shaped zirconia sintered body having mirror polished surfaces and measuring 15 mm in diameter and 0.5 mm in thickness.

Method of Production of Zirconia Calcined Body



[0111] The zirconia calcined body can be obtained by calcining the zirconia shaped body. For advantages such as ease of obtaining the desired zirconia calcined body, the calcination temperature is preferably 300°C or more, more preferably 400°C or more, even more preferably 500°C or more, and is preferably less than 900°C, more preferably 850°C or less, even more preferably 800°C or less. With a calcination temperature equal to or greater than the foregoing lower limits, it is possible to effectively inhibit generation of organic material residues. With a calcination temperature equal to or less than the foregoing upper limits, it is possible to reduce the difficulty in cutting (milling) with a cutting machine occurring when the sintering overly proceeds.

[0112] The rate of temperature increase in calcination is not particularly limited, and is preferably 0.1°C/min or more, more preferably 0.2°C/min or more, even more preferably 0.5°C/min or more, and is preferably 50°C/min or less, more preferably 30°C/min or less, even more preferably 20°C/min or less. The productivity improves when the rate of temperature increase is equal to or greater than the foregoing lower limits. With a rate of temperature increase equal to or less than the foregoing upper limits, it is possible to reduce the volume difference between inner and outer portions of the zirconia shaped body and the zirconia calcined body, and to reduce cracking and breakage by inhibiting the organic materials from undergoing rapid decomposition when the zirconia shaped body is containing organic materials.

[0113] The calcination time in the calcination of the zirconia shaped body is not particularly limited. However, for advantages such as efficiently and stably obtaining the desired zirconia calcined body with good productivity, the calcination time is preferably 0.5 hours or more, more preferably 1 hour or more, even more preferably 2 hours or more, and is preferably 10 hours or less, more preferably 8 hours or less, even more preferably 6 hours or less.

[0114] Calcination may be carried out using a calcination furnace. The type of calcination furnace is not particularly limited, and the calcination furnace may be, for example, an electric furnace or a debinding furnace commonly used in industry.

[0115] The zirconia calcined body may be cut (milled) into the desired shape, before being formed into a zirconia sintered body. To describe more specifically, the present invention enables easy production of a zirconia sintered body that exhibits high translucency and high strength despite containing a fluorescent agent, and the zirconia sintered body is particularly preferred as, for example, a dental material such as a dental prosthesis. To this end, the zirconia calcined body may be cut (milled) into a shape corresponding to the shape of such a material so that a zirconia sintered body for use in such applications can be obtained. Cutting (milling) is not limited to specific methods, and may be achieved by using, for example, a known milling device.

Zirconia Calcined Body



[0116] A zirconia calcined body containing a fluorescent agent can be obtained by using the method of production described above. The content of the fluorescent agent in the zirconia calcined body may be appropriately adjusted according to, for example, the content of the fluorescent agent in the zirconia sintered body to be produced. Specifically, the content of the fluorescent agent contained in the zirconia calcined body is preferably 0.001 mass% or more, more preferably 0.005 mass% or more, even more preferably 0.01 mass% or more, and is preferably 1 mass% or less, more preferably 0.5 mass% or less, even more preferably 0.1 mass% or less in terms of an oxide of the metallic element contained in the fluorescent agent, relative to the mass of the zirconia contained in the zirconia calcined body.

[0117] When producing a zirconia sintered body containing a colorant, it is preferable that the colorant be contained in the zirconia calcined body. The colorant content in the zirconia calcined body may be appropriately adjusted according to, for example, the content of the colorant in the zirconia sintered body to be produced. Specifically, the colorant content in the zirconia calcined body is preferably 0.001 mass% or more, more preferably 0.005 mass% or more, even more preferably 0.01 mass% or more, and is preferably 5 mass% or less, more preferably 1 mass% or less, even more preferably 0.5 mass% or less, and may be 0.1 mass% or less, or 0.05 mass% or less in terms of an oxide of the metallic element contained in the colorant, relative to the mass of the zirconia contained in the zirconia calcined body.

[0118] When producing a zirconia sintered body containing a translucency adjuster, it is preferable that the translucency adjuster be contained in the zirconia calcined body. The content of the translucency adjuster in the zirconia calcined body may be appropriately adjusted according to, for example, the content of the translucency adjuster in the zirconia sintered body to be produced. Specifically, the content of the translucency adjuster contained in the zirconia calcined body is preferably 0.1 mass% or less relative to the mass of the zirconia contained in the zirconia calcined body.

[0119] The yttria content in the zirconia calcined body may be the same as that in the zirconia sintered body to be produced. Specifically, the yttria content in the zirconia calcined body is preferably 2.0 mol% or more, more preferably 3.0 mol% or more, even more preferably 4.0 mol% or more, particularly preferably 4.5 mol% or more, and may be 5.0 mol% or more, or 5.5 mol% or more, and is preferably 9.0 mol% or less, more preferably 8.0 mol% or less, even more preferably 7.0 mol% or less. It is to be noted that the yttria content in the zirconia calcined body is a fraction (mol%) of the number of moles of yttria with respect to the total number of moles of zirconia and yttria.

[0120] The density of the zirconia calcined body is not particularly limited, and preferably falls in a range of 3.0 to 6.0 g/m3, more preferably 3.2 to 5.8 g/m3, though the density varies with conditions such as the method of production of the zirconia shaped body used for the production of the zirconia calcined body.

[0121] The shape of the zirconia calcined body is not particularly limited, and may be chosen as desired according to use. However, for example, considering ease of handing of when using the zirconia calcined body as a mill blank for producing a dental material such as a dental prosthesis, the zirconia calcined body preferably has a disc or a prism shape (e.g., rectangular). The zirconia calcined body may be cut (milled) into the desired shape according to use before being formed into a zirconia sintered body, as described above. However, the present invention also encompasses zirconia calcined bodies of desired shapes imparted after cutting (milling). The zirconia calcined body may have a monolayer structure or a multilayer structure. However, with a multilayered zirconia calcined body, the resulting zirconia sintered body can have a multilayer structure, which allows translucency and other physical properties to be locally altered.

[0122] For advantages such as maintaining the shape of the work in the process of working using a cutting machine, and improving the ease of cutting itself, the three-point flexural strength of the zirconia calcined body preferably falls in a range of 10 to 70 MPa, more preferably 20 to 60 MPa. The three-point flexural strength of the zirconia calcined body may be a measured value obtained from a 5 mm × 40 mm × 10 mm test piece using a multi-purpose tester at a span length of 30 mm and a crosshead speed of 0.5 mm/min.

[0123] The zirconia calcined body obtained by using the method of production described above has a crystal grain size of preferably 180 nm or less after being sintered at 1,100°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure (after being formed into a zirconia sintered body). In this way, a zirconia sintered body having high translucency can be produced with ease. For advantages such as obtaining a zirconia sintered body having even higher translucency, the crystal grain size is more preferably140 nm or less, even more preferably 120 nm or less, particularly preferably 115 nm or less, and may be 110 nm or less. The lower limit of crystal grain size is not particularly limited, and the crystal grain size may be, for example, 50 nm or more, or 100 nm or more. The crystal grain size can be measured in the same manner as described above in conjunction with the zirconia shaped body.

[0124] The zirconia calcined body obtained by using the method of production described above has a three-point flexural strength of preferably 400 MPa or more after being sintered at 1,100°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure (after being formed into a zirconia sintered body). In this way, a zirconia sintered body having high strength can be produced with ease. For advantages such as obtaining a zirconia sintered body having even higher strength, the three-point flexural strength is more preferably 500 MPa or more, even more preferably 600 MPa or more, particularly preferably 650 MPa or more, most preferably 700 MPa or more, and may be 800 MPa or more. The upper limit of three-point flexural strength is not particularly limited, and the three-point flexural strength may be, for example, 1,500 MPa or less, or 1,000 MPa or less. The three-point flexural strength can be measured in the same manner as described above in conjunction with the zirconia shaped body.

[0125] The zirconia calcined body obtained by using the method of production described above has a transmittance of preferably 35% or more for light of 700 nm wavelength through a thickness of 0.5 mm after being sintered at 1,100°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure (after being formed into a zirconia sintered body). In this way, a zirconia sintered body having high translucency can be produced with ease. For advantages such as obtaining a zirconia sintered body having even higher translucency, the transmittance is more preferably 40% or more, even more preferably 45% or more, and may be 46% or more, 48% or more, 50% or more, or 52% or more. The upper limit of transmittance is not particularly limited, and the transmittance may be, for example, 60% or less, or 57% or less. The transmittance can be measured in the same manner as described above in conjunction with the zirconia shaped body.

Method of Production of Zirconia Sintered Body



[0126] The zirconia sintered body can be obtained by sintering the zirconia shaped body or zirconia calcined body under ordinary pressure. For advantages such as ease of obtaining the desired zirconia sintered body, the sintering temperature is preferably 900°C or more, more preferably 1,000°C or more, even more preferably 1,050°C or more, and is preferably 1,200°C or less, more preferably 1,150°C or less, even more preferably 1,120°C or less, regardless of whether the zirconia shaped body or the zirconia calcined body is sintered. With a sintering temperature equal to or greater than the foregoing lower limits, sintering can sufficiently proceed, and a compact sintered body can be obtained with ease. With a sintering temperature equal to or less than the foregoing upper limits, it is possible to easily obtain a zirconia sintered body having a crystal grain size within the foregoing ranges, and to inhibit deactivation of fluorescent agent.

[0127] In sintering the zirconia shaped body and the zirconia calcined body, the sintering time is not particularly limited; however, for advantages such as efficiently and stably obtaining the desired zirconia sintered body with good productivity, the sintering time is preferably 5 minutes or more, more preferably 15 minutes or more, even more preferably 30 minutes or more, and is preferably 6 hours or less, more preferably 4 hours or less, even more preferably 2 hours or less, regardless of whether the zirconia shaped body or the zirconia calcined body is sintered.

[0128] Sintering may be carried out using a sintering furnace. The type of sintering furnace is not particularly limited, and the sintering furnace may be, for example, an electric furnace or a debinding furnace commonly used in industry. Specifically, when the zirconia sintered body is to be used for dental material applications, it is possible to use a dental porcelain furnace, which operates in a relatively low sintering temperature range, other than using a traditional dental sintering furnace for zirconia.

[0129] The zirconia sintered body can be produced with ease without hot isostatic pressing (HIP). However, further improvement of translucency and strength can be achieved when the sintering under ordinary pressure is followed by hot isostatic pressing (HIP).

Zirconia Sintered Body



[0130] A zirconia sintered body containing a fluorescent agent can be obtained by using the method of production described above. By containing a fluorescent agent, the zirconia sintered body exhibits fluorescence. The content of the fluorescent agent in the zirconia sintered body is not particularly limited, and may be appropriately adjusted according to such factors as the type of fluorescent agent, and the use of the zirconia sintered body. However, for advantages such as suitability as dental prostheses, the fluorescent agent content is preferably 0.001 mass% or more, more preferably 0.005 mass% or more, even more preferably 0.01 mass% or more, and is preferably 1 mass% or less, more preferably 0.5 mass% or less, even more preferably 0.1 mass% or less in terms of an oxide of the metallic element contained in the fluorescent agent, relative to the mass of the zirconia contained in the zirconia sintered body. With the fluorescent agent contained in an amount equal to or greater than these lower limits, the zirconia sintered body can produce fluorescence comparable to that of natural human teeth. With the fluorescent agent contained in an amount equal to or less than the foregoing upper limits, decrease of translucency and strength can be reduced.

[0131] The zirconia sintered body may contain a colorant. By containing a colorant, the zirconia sintered body can have a color. The content of the colorant in the zirconia sintered body is not particularly limited, and may be appropriately adjusted according to such factors as the type of colorant, and the use of the zirconia sintered body. However, for advantages such as suitability as dental prostheses, the colorant content is preferably 0.001 mass% or more, more preferably 0.005 mass% or more, even more preferably 0.01 mass% or more, and is preferably 5 mass% or less, more preferably 1 mass% or less, even more preferably 0.5 mass% or less, and may be 0.1 mass% or less, or 0.05 mass% or less in terms of an oxide of the metallic element contained in the colorant, relative to the mass of the zirconia contained in the zirconia sintered body.

[0132] With the present invention, a zirconia sintered body having high translucency can be obtained, despite that the zirconia sintered body contains a fluorescent agent. The zirconia sintered body may contain a translucency adjuster for adjustment of translucency in the zirconia sintered body. The content of the translucency adjuster in the zirconia sintered body is not particularly limited, and may be appropriately adjusted according to such factors as the type of translucency adjuster, and the use of the zirconia sintered body. However, for advantages such as suitability as dental prostheses, the content of translucency adjuster is preferably 0.1 mass% or less relative to the mass of the zirconia contained in the zirconia sintered body.

[0133] For advantages such as producing a zirconia sintered body having improved translucency and strength, the yttria content in the zirconia sintered body is preferably 2.0 mol% or more, more preferably 3.0 mol% or more, even more preferably 4.0 mol% or more, particularly preferably 4.5 mol% or more, and may be 5.0 mol% or more, or 5.5 mol% or more, and is preferably 9.0 mol% or less, more preferably 8.0 mol% or less, even more preferably 7.0 mol% or less. It is to be noted that the yttria content in the zirconia sintered body is a fraction (mol%) of the number of moles of yttria with respect to the total number of moles of zirconia and yttria.

[0134] For advantages such as producing a zirconia sintered body having improved translucency, the crystal grain size of the zirconia sintered body obtained by using the method of production described above is preferably 180 nm or less, more preferably 140 nm or less, even more preferably 120 nm or less, particularly preferably 115 nm or less, and may be 110 nm or less. The lower limit of crystal grain size is not particularly limited, and the crystal grain size may be, for example, 50 nm or more, or 100 nm or more. The crystal grain size measurement method is as described above in conjunction with the zirconia shaped body.

[0135] For advantages such as producing a zirconia sintered body having improved strength, the three-point flexural strength of the zirconia sintered body obtained by using the method of production described above is preferably 400 MPa or more, more preferably 500 MPa or more, even more preferably 600 MPa or more, particularly preferably 650 MPa or more, most preferably 700 MPa or more, and may be 800 MPa or more. The upper limit of three-point flexural strength is not particularly limited, and the three-point flexural strength may be, for example, 1,500 MPa or less, or 1,000 MPa or less. The three-point flexural strength measurement method is as described above in conjunction with the zirconia shaped body.

[0136] For advantages such as producing a zirconia sintered body having improved translucency, the transmittance for light of 700 nm wavelength through a thickness of 0.5 mm in the zirconia sintered body obtained by using the method of production described above is preferably 35% or more, more preferably 40% or more, even more preferably 45% or more, and may be 46% or more, 48% or more, 50% or more, or 52% or more. The upper limit of transmittance is not particularly limited, and the transmittance may be, for example, 60% or less, or 57% or less. The transmittance measurement method is as described above in conjunction with the zirconia shaped body.

[0137] The predominant crystal phase of the zirconia sintered body obtained by using the method of production described above may be a tetragonal crystal or a cubical crystal. However, the predominant crystal phase is preferably a cubical crystal. The zirconia sintered body is preferably at least 10% cubical crystal, more preferably at least 50% cubical crystal, even more preferably at least 70% cubical crystal. The fraction of the cubical crystal in the zirconia sintered body may be determined by crystal phase analysis. Specifically, the fraction of cubical crystal may be determined by X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis of a mirror finished surface portion of the zirconia sintered body, using the following formula.



[0138] Here, fc represents the fraction (%) of the cubical crystal in the zirconia sintered body, Im represents the height of a peak (a peak attributed to the (11-1) plane of a monoclinic crystal) near 2θ = 28 degrees, It represents the height of a peak (a peak attributed to the (111) plane of a tetragonal crystal) near 2θ = 30 degrees, and Ic represents the height of a peak (a peak attributed to the (111) plane of the cubical crystal) near 2θ = 30 degrees. When the peak near 2θ = 30 degrees appears as a peak attributed to a mixed phase of the (111) plane of the tetragonal crystal and the (111) plane of the cubical crystal, and separation is difficult to achieve for the peak attributed to the (111) plane of the tetragonal crystal and the peak attributed to the (111) plane of the cubical crystal, It and Ic can be determined by first determining the ratio of tetragonal crystal and cubical crystal using a technique such as the Rietveld method, and then multiplying the ratio by the height (It + c) of the peak attributed to the mixed phase.

[0139] In the zirconia sintered body obtained by using the method of production described above, the fraction of monoclinic crystal with respect to tetragonal crystal and cubical crystal after the zirconia sintered body is immersed in 180°C hot water for 5 hours is preferably 5% or less, more preferably 3% or less, even more preferably 1% or less. With the fraction falling in these ranges, volume changes due to aging can be reduced, and breakage can be prevented when the zirconia sintered body is used as, for example, a dental prosthesis. The fraction can be determined by mirror polishing a surface of the zirconia sintered body, and measuring the mirror polished surface portion by X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis after the zirconia sintered body is immersed in 180°C hot water for 5 hours, using the following formula.



[0140] Here, fm represents the fraction (%) of the monoclinic crystal with respect to the tetragonal crystal and the cubical crystal in the zirconia sintered body immersed in 180°C hot water for 5 hours, Im represents the height of a peak (a peak attributed to the (11-1) plane of the monoclinic crystal) near 2θ = 28 degrees, and It+c represents the height of a peak (a peak attributed to a mixed phase of the (111) plane of the tetragonal crystal and the (111) plane of the cubical crystal) near 2θ = 30 degrees. When It+c cannot be easily specified as a result of the peak near 2θ = 30 degrees separately appearing as a peak attributed to the (111) plane of the tetragonal crystal and a peak attributed to the (111) plane of the cubical crystal, It+c can be determined as the sum of the height (It) of the peak attributed to the (111) plane of the tetragonal crystal and the height (Ic) of the peak attributed to the (111) plane of the cubical crystal.

Use of Zirconia Sintered Body



[0141] The zirconia sintered body is not limited to particular applications. However, because the present invention enables easy production of a zirconia sintered body that has both high translucency and high strength despite containing a fluorescent agent, the zirconia sintered body is particularly preferred as a dental material such as a dental prosthesis, and is highly useful not only as a dental prosthesis for the cervical region of a tooth, but as a dental prosthesis for the occlusal surface of a posterior tooth, and the incisal region of a front tooth. The zirconia sintered body of the present invention is particularly preferred for use as a dental prosthesis for the incisal region of a front tooth.

EXAMPLES



[0142] The following describes the present invention in greater detail using Examples and Comparative Examples. It is to be noted, however, that the present invention is not limited by the following descriptions. The methods used to measure physical properties are as follows.

(1) Average Primary Particle Diameter of Zirconia Particles



[0143] The average primary particle diameter of zirconia particles was determined by taking a micrograph of zirconia particles with a transmission electron microscope (TEM), and finding a mean value of particle diameters (maximum diameters) measured for arbitrarily chosen 100 particles from the photographed image.

(2) Crystal Grain Size



[0144] The crystal grain size of zirconia sintered body was determined by taking a micrograph of zirconia sintered body cross sections with a field emission scanning electron microscope (FE-SEM), and finding a mean value of diameters of circles corresponding to 10 arbitrarily selected particles from the micrograph (the diameters of true circles having the same areas as these particles).

(3) Three-Point Flexural Strength



[0145] The three-point flexural strength of zirconia sintered body was measured in compliance with JIS R 1601:2008.

(4) Light Transmittance (700 nm wavelength, 0.5 mm thickness)



[0146] The transmittance of zirconia sintered body for light of 700 nm wavelength through a thickness of 0.5 mm was measured with an integrating sphere by measuring light from a light source passing and scattering on a specimen, using a spectrophotometer (Hitachi spectrophotometer, Model U-3900H manufactured by Hitachi High-Technologies Corporation). In the measurement, the transmittance for light of 700 nm wavelength was determined after measuring transmittance in a wavelength region of 300 to 750 nm. For the measurement, a disc-shaped zirconia sintered body having mirror polished surfaces and measuring 15 mm in diameter and 0.5 mm in thickness was used as a specimen.

(5) Fraction of Cubical Crystal



[0147] The fraction of the cubical crystal in zirconia sintered body was determined by crystal phase analysis. Specifically, the fraction of cubical crystal was determined by X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis of a mirror finished surface portion of the zirconia sintered body, using the following formula.



[0148] Here, fc represents the fraction (%) of the cubical crystal in zirconia sintered body, Im represents the height of a peak (a peak attributed to the (11-1) plane of a monoclinic crystal) near 2θ = 28 degrees, It represents the height of a peak (a peak attributed to the (111) plane of a tetragonal crystal) near 2θ = 30 degrees, and Ic represents the height of a peak (a peak attributed to the (111) plane of the cubical crystal) near 2θ = 30 degrees.

(6) Fraction of Monoclinic Crystal after Hot-Water Treatment



[0149] The fraction of monoclinic crystal with respect to tetragonal crystal and cubical crystal after the zirconia sintered body is immersed in 180°C hot water for 5 hours was determined by mirror polishing a surface of the zirconia sintered body, and measuring the mirror polished surface portion by X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis after the zirconia sintered body was immersed in 180°C hot water for 5 hours, using the following formula.



[0150] Here, fm represents the fraction (%) of the monoclinic crystal with respect to the tetragonal crystal and the cubical crystal in the zirconia sintered body immersed in 180°C hot water for 5 hours, Im represents the height of a peak (a peak attributed to the (11-1) plane of the monoclinic crystal) near 2θ = 28 degrees, and It+c represents the height of a peak (a peak attributed to the mixed phase of the (111) plane of the tetragonal crystal and the (111) plane of the cubical crystal) near 2θ = 30 degrees.

(7) Appearance of Zirconia Sintered Body



[0151] The appearance (color) of zirconia sintered body was evaluated by visual inspection.

(8) Fluorescence of Zirconia Sintered Body



[0152] For evaluation of the fluorescence of zirconia sintered body, the presence or absence of fluorescence under UV light was determined by visual inspection.

Example 1



[0153] A dilute nitric acid solution of bismuth nitrate was added to a water-based zirconia slurry containing 5 mol% yttria (MELox Nanosize 5Y manufactured by MEL Chemicals; average primary particle diameter of zirconia particles = 13 nm, zirconia concentration = 23 mass%) so that the resulting mixture had a concentration of 0.02 mass% in terms of an oxide of bismuth (Bi2O3) relative to the mass of zirconia. Thereafter, isopropanol was added in 9 times the volume of the zirconia slurry used. The mixture was placed in a centrifuge tube, thoroughly mixed, and centrifuged at 4,000 rpm for 10 minutes. After confirming sedimentation of a white substance, the supernatant was removed, and isopropanol was added again. The mixture was thoroughly mixed, and centrifuged at 4,000 rpm for 10 minutes. The supernatant was removed after confirming sedimentation of a white substance, and methanol was added to make the volume of the mixture the same as the volume of the zirconia slurry used. The mixture was then thoroughly mixed to obtain a methanol-replaced slurry.

[0154] The methanol-replaced slurry produced was subjected to supercritical drying with a supercritical drier using the following procedure. Specifically, the methanol-replaced slurry was placed in a pressure vessel, and the pressure vessel was coupled to a supercritical carbon dioxide extraction device. After checking that there is no pressure leak, the pressure vessel, with a preheating tube, was immersed in a water bath that had been heated to 60°C. The slurry was then allowed to stand for 10 minutes to stabilize after being heated to 80°C and pressurized to 25 MPa. Thereafter, carbon dioxide and entrainer methanol were introduced under predetermined conditions (temperature: 80°C, pressure: 25 MPa, carbon dioxide flow rate: 10 mL/min, entrainer (methanol) flow rate: 1.5 mL/min). The feeding of methanol was discontinued after an elapsed time period of 2 hours, without stopping the carbon dioxide feed. After 2 hours with the sole supply of carbon dioxide, the feeding of carbon dioxide was stopped, and the pressure was gradually brought back to ordinary pressure from 25 MPa over a time period of about 20 minutes at a maintained temperature of 80°C. The pressure vessel was then taken out of the water bath, and cooled to ordinary temperature. The processed specimen was collected by opening the container, and a powder containing zirconia particles and a fluorescent agent was obtained.

[0155] By uniaxial pressing, the powder produced was formed into a plate shape measuring 80 mm × 40 mm × 10 mm in size, and a disc shape measuring 15 mm in diameter and 1.5 mm in thickness. These were subjected to cold isostatic pressing (CIP; 170 MPa pressure) to obtain zirconia shaped bodies of increased density. These zirconia shaped bodies were calcined at 700°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure to obtain zirconia calcined bodies. The zirconia calcined bodies were sintered at 1,100°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure to obtain zirconia sintered bodies. The zirconia sintered bodies were white in color, and had fluorescence. The measurement results are presented in Table 1.

Comparative Example 1



[0156] Isopropanol was added to a water-based zirconia slurry containing 5 mol% yttria (MELox Nanosize 5Y manufactured by MEL Chemicals; average primary particle diameter of zirconia particles = 13 nm, zirconia concentration = 23 mass%) in 9 times the volume of the zirconia slurry. The mixture was then placed in a centrifuge tube, thoroughly mixed, and centrifuged at 4,000 rpm for 10 minutes. After confirming sedimentation of a white substance, the supernatant was removed, and isopropanol was added again. The mixture was thoroughly mixed, and centrifuged at 4,000 rpm for 10 minutes. The supernatant was removed after confirming sedimentation of a white substance, and methanol was added to make the volume of the mixture the same as the volume of the zirconia slurry used. The mixture was then thoroughly mixed to obtain a methanol-replaced slurry. The methanol-replaced slurry had a residual moisture content of 0.07 mass% as measured with a Karl Fisher moisture content meter.

[0157] A zirconia particle- and fluorescent agent-containing powder, a zirconia shaped body, a zirconia calcined body, and a zirconia sintered body were obtained in the same manner as in Example 1, except that the methanol-replaced slurry produced above was used. The zirconia sintered body obtained was white in color, but did not have fluorescence. The measurement results are presented in Table 1.

Comparative Example 2



[0158] A powder of bismuth nitrate was added to a water-based zirconia slurry containing 5 mol% yttria (MELox Nanosize 5Y manufactured by MEL Chemicals; average primary particle diameter of zirconia particles = 13 nm, zirconia concentration = 23 mass%) so that the resulting mixture had a concentration of 0.02 mass% in terms of an oxide of bismuth (Bi2O3) relative to the mass of zirconia. The mixture was then pulverized with a mortar. Thereafter, isopropanol was added in 9 times the volume of the zirconia slurry used. The mixture was placed in a centrifuge tube, thoroughly mixed, and centrifuged at 4,000 rpm for 10 minutes. After confirming sedimentation of a white substance, the supernatant was removed, and isopropanol was added again. The mixture was thoroughly mixed, and centrifuged at 4,000 rpm for 10 minutes. The supernatant was removed after confirming sedimentation of a white substance, and methanol was added to make the volume of the mixture the same as the volume of the zirconia slurry used. The mixture was then thoroughly mixed to obtain a methanol-replaced slurry. The methanol-replaced slurry had a residual moisture content of 0.04 mass% as measured with a Karl Fisher moisture content meter.

[0159] A zirconia particle- and fluorescent agent-containing powder, a zirconia shaped body, a zirconia calcined body, and a zirconia sintered body were obtained in the same manner as in Example 1, except that the methanol-replaced slurry produced above was used. The zirconia sintered body obtained was white in color, and had fluorescence. The measurement results are presented in Table 1.

Example 2



[0160] An aqueous solution of nickel(II) nitrate was added to 100 parts by mass of a water-based zirconia slurry containing 5 mol% yttria (MELox Nanosize 5Y manufactured by MEL Chemicals; average primary particle diameter of zirconia particles = 13 nm, zirconia concentration = 23 mass%) so that the resulting mixture had a concentration of 0.02 mass% in terms of an oxide of nickel(II) (NiO) relative to the mass of zirconia. A dilute nitric acid solution of bismuth nitrate was then added to the mixture so that the resulting mixture had a concentration of 0.02 mass% in terms of an oxide of bismuth (Bi2O3) relative to the mass of zirconia. This was followed by a dispersion medium replacement procedure, in which 50 parts by mass of 2-ethoxyethanol was added, and concentrated to make the total amount 100 parts by mass, using a rotary evaporator. The dispersion medium replacement procedure was repeated 4 times to obtain a 2-ethoxyethanol-replaced slurry. The 2-ethoxyethanol-replaced slurry had a residual moisture content of 0.02 mass% as measured with a Karl Fisher moisture content meter.

[0161] A zirconia particle-, fluorescent agent, and colorant-containing powder, a zirconia shaped body, a zirconia calcined body, and a zirconia sintered body were obtained in the same manner as in Example 1, except that the 2-ethoxyethanol-replaced slurry produced above was used in place of the methanol-replaced slurry used in Example 1. The zirconia sintered body obtained was red in color, and had fluorescence. The measurement results are presented in Table 1.

Example 3



[0162] An aqueous solution of europium acetate was added to a water-based zirconia slurry containing 5 mol% yttria (MELox Nanosize 5Y manufactured by MEL Chemicals; average primary particle diameter of zirconia particles = 13 nm, zirconia concentration = 23 mass%) so that the resulting mixture had a concentration of 0.02 mass% in terms of an oxide of europium (Eu2O3) relative to the mass of zirconia. Thereafter, isopropanol was added in 9 times the volume of the zirconia slurry used. The mixture was placed in a centrifuge tube, thoroughly mixed, and centrifuged at 4,000 rpm for 10 minutes. After confirming sedimentation of a white substance, the supernatant was removed, and isopropanol was added again. The mixture was thoroughly mixed, and centrifuged at 4,000 rpm for 10 minutes. The supernatant was removed after confirming sedimentation of a white substance, and methanol was added to make the volume of the mixture the same as the volume of the zirconia slurry used. The mixture was then thoroughly mixed to obtain a methanol-replaced slurry. The methanol-replaced slurry had a residual moisture content of 0.08 mass% as measured with a Karl Fisher moisture content meter.

[0163] A zirconia particle- and fluorescent agent-containing powder, a zirconia shaped body, a zirconia calcined body, and a zirconia sintered body were obtained in the same manner as in Example 1, except that the methanol-replaced slurry produced above was used. The zirconia sintered body obtained was white in color, and had fluorescence. The measurement results are presented in Table 1.

[0164] A zirconia calcined body produced in the same manner as described above was cut into shapes of crowns for maxillary central incisor and mandibular first molar using a milling device (Katana H-18 manufactured by Kuraray Noritake Dental Inc.). These were then sintered at 1,100°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure to obtain crown-shaped dental prostheses having fluorescence.

Example 4



[0165] A 1.0-L mixed aqueous solution of 0.62 mol/L zirconium oxychloride and 0.065 mol/L yttrium chloride, and 0.5 L of a 1.9 mol/L aqueous solution of sodium hydroxide were separately prepared.

[0166] After pouring 1.0 L of purified water into a precipitation vessel, the mixed aqueous solution and the sodium hydroxide aqueous solution were simultaneously poured into the vessel to obtain a slurry through coprecipitation of zirconium oxychloride and yttrium chloride. The slurry was filtered and washed, and purified water was added to obtain a 1.0-L slurry having a solid content of 5.0 mass% (a concentration of zirconia and yttria). After adding 22.2 g of acetic acid to the slurry, a hydrothermal treatment was conducted at 200°C for 3 hours to obtain a zirconia slurry. The zirconia particles contained in the zirconia slurry had an average primary particle diameter of 18 nm.

[0167] A dilute nitric acid solution of bismuth nitrate was added to 100 parts by mass of the zirconia slurry produced so that the resulting mixture had a concentration of 0.02 mass% in terms of an oxide of bismuth (Bi2O3) relative to the mass of zirconia. This was followed by a dispersion medium replacement procedure, in which 50 parts by mass of 2-ethoxyethanol was added, and concentrated to make the total amount 100 parts by mass, using a rotary evaporator. The dispersion medium replacement procedure was repeated 4 times to obtain a 2-ethoxyethanol-replaced slurry. The 2-ethoxyethanol-replaced slurry had a residual moisture content of 0.06 mass% as measured with a Karl Fisher moisture content meter.

[0168] A zirconia particle- and fluorescent agent-containing powder, a zirconia shaped body, a zirconia calcined body, and a zirconia sintered body were obtained in the same manner as in Example 1, except that the 2-ethoxyethanol-replaced slurry produced above was used in place of the methanol-replaced slurry used in Example 1. The zirconia sintered body obtained was white in color, and had fluorescence. The measurement results are presented in Table 1.
[Table 1]
 ExampleComparative ExampleExample
112234
Zirconia sintered body       
Content of fluorescent agent (*1) Mass% 0.02 - 0.02 0.02 0.02 0.02
Content of colorant (*1) Mass% - - - 0.02 - -
Content of yttria (*2) Mol% 5 5 5 5 5 5
Crystal grain size nm 110 109 - 119 112 118
Three-point flexural strength MPa 802 814 479 802 802 636
Light transmittance (wavelength 700 nm, thickness 0.5 mm) % 48 49 42 43 46 42
Fraction of cubical crystal % 100 100 100 100 100 100
Fraction of monoclinic crystal after hot-water treatment % 0 0 0 0 0 0
(*1) Content relative to the mass of zirconia (the content is in terms of an oxide of metallic element)
(*2) Fraction of number of moles of yttria with respect to total number of moles of zirconia and yttria

Example 5



[0169] A dilute nitric acid solution of bismuth nitrate was added to 100 parts by mass of a water-based zirconia slurry containing 5 mol% yttria (MELox Nanosize 5Y manufactured by MEL Chemicals; average primary particle diameter of zirconia particles = 13 nm, zirconia concentration = 23 mass%) so that the resulting mixture had a concentration of 0.02 mass% in terms of an oxide of bismuth (Bi2O3) relative to the mass of zirconia. This was followed by a dispersion medium replacement procedure, in which 50 parts by mass of 2-ethoxyethanol was added, and concentrated to make the total amount 100 parts by mass, using a rotary evaporator. The dispersion medium replacement procedure was repeated 4 times to obtain a 2-ethoxyethanol-replaced slurry. The 2-ethoxyethanol-replaced slurry had a residual moisture content of 0.05 mass% as measured with a Karl Fisher moisture content meter.

[0170] The 2-ethoxyethanol-replaced slurry was dried with a spray drier (B-290 manufactured by Buchi Labortechnik AG, Japan) at a feed rate of 5 mL/min and inlet and outlet temperatures of 150°C and 100°C, respectively, to obtain a powder containing zirconia particles and a fluorescent agent.

[0171] By uniaxial pressing, the powder was formed into a plate shape measuring 80 mm × 40 mm × 10 mm in size, and a disc shape measuring 15 mm in diameter and 1.5 mm in thickness. These were then subjected to cold isostatic pressing (CIP; 170 MPa pressure) to obtain zirconia shaped bodies of increased density. These zirconia shaped bodies were calcined at 700°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure to obtain zirconia calcined bodies. The zirconia calcined bodies were sintered at 1,100°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure to obtain zirconia sintered bodies. The zirconia sintered bodies obtained were white in color, and had fluorescence. The measurement results are presented in Table 2.

[0172] A zirconia calcined body produced in the same manner as described above was cut into shapes of crowns for maxillary central incisor and mandibular first molar using a milling device (Katana H-18 manufactured by Kuraray Noritake Dental Inc.). These were then sintered at 1,100°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure to obtain crown-shaped dental prostheses having fluorescence.

Example 6



[0173] An aqueous solution of bismuth hydroxide was added to 100 parts by mass of a water-based zirconia slurry containing 3 mol% yttria (MELox Nanosize 3Y manufactured by MEL Chemicals; average primary particle diameter of zirconia particles = 13 nm, zirconia concentration = 23 mass%) so that the resulting mixture had a concentration of 0.02 mass% in terms of an oxide of bismuth (Bi2O3) relative to the mass of zirconia. This was followed by a dispersion medium replacement procedure, in which 50 parts by mass of 2-ethoxyethanol was added, and concentrated to make the total amount 100 parts by mass, using a rotary evaporator. The dispersion medium replacement procedure was repeated 4 times to obtain a 2-ethoxyethanol-replaced slurry. The 2-ethoxyethanol-replaced slurry had a residual moisture content of 0.05 mass% as measured with a Karl Fisher moisture content meter.

[0174] A zirconia particle- and fluorescent agent-containing powder, a zirconia shaped body, a zirconia calcined body, and a zirconia sintered body were obtained in the same manner as in Example 5, except that the 2-ethoxyethanol-replaced slurry produced above was used. The zirconia sintered body obtained was white in color, and had fluorescence. The measurement results are presented in Table 2.

[0175] A zirconia calcined body produced in the same manner as described above was cut into shapes of crowns for maxillary central incisor and mandibular first molar using a milling device (Katana H-18 manufactured by Kuraray Noritake Dental Inc.). These were then sintered at 1,100°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure to obtain crown-shaped dental prostheses having fluorescence.

Example 7



[0176] A 2-ethoxyethanol-replaced slurry was obtained in the same manner as in Example 6, except that a water-based zirconia slurry containing 8 mol% yttria (MELox Nanosize 8Y manufactured by MEL Chemicals; average primary particle diameter of zirconia particles = 13 nm, zirconia concentration = 23 mass%) was used as zirconia slurry. The 2-ethoxyethanol-replaced slurry had a residual moisture content of 0.04 mass% as measured with a Karl Fisher moisture content meter.

[0177] A zirconia particle- and fluorescent agent-containing powder, a zirconia shaped body, a zirconia calcined body, and a zirconia sintered body were obtained in the same manner as in Example 5, except that the 2-ethoxyethanol-replaced slurry produced above was used. The zirconia sintered body obtained was white in color, and had fluorescence. The measurement results are presented in Table 2.

Example 8



[0178] Isopropanol was added to a water-based zirconia slurry containing 5 mol% yttria (MELox Nanosize 5Y manufactured by MEL Chemicals; average primary particle diameter of zirconia particles = 13 nm, zirconia concentration = 23 mass%) in 9 times the volume of the zirconia slurry. The mixture was placed in a centrifuge tube, thoroughly mixed, and centrifuged at 4,000 rpm for 10 minutes. After confirming sedimentation of a white substance, the supernatant was removed, and isopropanol was added again. The mixture was thoroughly mixed, and centrifuged at 4,000 rpm for 10 minutes. The supernatant was removed after confirming sedimentation of a white substance, and methanol was added to make the volume of the mixture the same as the volume of the zirconia slurry used. The mixture was then thoroughly mixed to obtain a methanol-replaced slurry. The methanol-replaced slurry had a residual moisture content of 0.08 mass% as measured with a Karl Fisher moisture content meter.

[0179] A zirconia particle- and fluorescent agent-containing slurry was obtained by adding a dilute nitric acid solution of bismuth nitrate to the methanol-replaced slurry produced so that the resulting mixture had a concentration of 0.02 mass% in terms of an oxide of bismuth (Bi2O3) relative to the mass of zirconia. The slurry was dried with a spray drier (B-290 manufactured by Buchi Labortechnik AG, Japan) at a feed rate of 5 mL/min and inlet and outlet temperatures of 150°C and 100°C, respectively, to obtain a powder containing zirconia particles and a fluorescent agent.

[0180] A zirconia shaped body, a zirconia calcined body, and a zirconia sintered body were obtained in the same manner as in Example 1, except that the powder produced above was used. The zirconia sintered body obtained was white in color, and had fluorescence. The measurement results are presented in Table 2.

Example 9



[0181] A dilute nitric acid solution of bismuth nitrate was added to a water-based zirconia slurry containing 5 mol% yttria (MELox Nanosize 5Y manufactured by MEL Chemicals; average primary particle diameter of zirconia particles = 13 nm, zirconia concentration = 23 mass%) so that the resulting mixture had a concentration of 0.02 mass% in terms of an oxide of bismuth (Bi2O3) relative to the mass of zirconia. Thereafter, isopropanol was added in 9 times the volume of the zirconia slurry used. The mixture was placed in a centrifuge tube, thoroughly mixed, and centrifuged at 4,000 rpm for 10 minutes. After confirming sedimentation of a white substance, the supernatant was removed, and isopropanol was added again. The mixture was thoroughly mixed, and centrifuged at 4,000 rpm for 10 minutes. The supernatant was removed after confirming sedimentation of a white substance, and tert-butyl alcohol was added to make the volume of the mixture the same as the volume of the zirconia slurry used. The mixture was then thoroughly mixed to obtain a tert-butyl alcohol-replaced slurry. The tert-butyl alcohol-replaced slurry had a residual moisture content of 0.05 mass% as measured with a Karl Fisher moisture content meter.

[0182] The tert-butyl alcohol-replaced slurry was transferred to an aluminum vat, and immersed in liquid nitrogen in a Dewar flask to freeze. The frozen tert-butyl alcohol-replaced slurry was allowed to stand in a freeze drier that had been precooled to -40°C. The pressure inside the freeze drier was then reduced to 130 Pa or less with a vacuum pump to bring the temperature inside the freeze drier to -10°C. The internal temperature was confirmed by inserting temperature sensors inside and outside of the aluminum vat. After the temperature inside the freeze drier had stabilized at -10°C for 72 hours, the temperature difference inside and outside of the aluminum vat was confirmed to be within 5°C, and the temperature inside the freeze drier was brought to 30°C. After being allowed to stand for 24 hours, the inside of the freeze drier was released from the reduced pressure to obtain a powder containing zirconia particles and a fluorescent agent.

[0183] A zirconia shaped body, a zirconia calcined body, and a zirconia sintered body were obtained in the same manner as in Example 1, except that the powder produced above was used in place of the powder used in Example 1. The zirconia sintered body obtained was white in color, and had fluorescence. The measurement results are presented in Table 2.

Example 10



[0184] A composition containing zirconia particles, a fluorescent agent, and a resin was obtained by adding and kneading 30 parts by mass of polyvinyl alcohol into 50 parts by mass of a zirconia particle- and fluorescent agent-containing powder obtained in the same manner as in Example 1.

[0185] The composition was molded into a zirconia shaped body by injection molding using an injection molding machine. The zirconia shaped body was calcined at 700°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure to obtain a zirconia calcined body. The zirconia calcined body was sintered at 1,100°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure to obtain a zirconia sintered body. The zirconia sintered body obtained was white in color, and had fluorescence. The measurement results are presented in Table 2.

Example 11



[0186] In a dark room, 30 parts by mass of 2-hydroxyethylmethacrylate, 5 parts by mass of 10-methacryloyloxydecyl dihydrogen phosphate, and 1 part by mass of 2,4,6-trimethylbenzoyldiphenylphosphine oxide (photopolymerization initiator) were added and kneaded into 50 parts by mass of a zirconia particle- and fluorescent agent-containing powder obtained in the same manner as in Example 1. This produced a composition containing zirconia particles, a fluorescent agent, a polymerizable monomer, and a photopolymerization initiator.

[0187] The composition was charged into a mold, and polymerized with a UV irradiator to obtain a zirconia shaped body. The zirconia shaped body was calcined at 700°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure to obtain a zirconia calcined body. The zirconia calcined body was sintered at 1,100°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure to obtain a zirconia sintered body. The zirconia sintered body obtained was white in color, and had fluorescence. The measurement results are presented in Table 2.
[Table 2]
 Example
567891011
Zirconia sintered body        
Content of fluorescent agent (*1) Mass% 0.02 0.02 0.02 0.02 0.02 0.02 0.02
Content of colorant (*1) Mass% - - - - - - -
Content of yttria (*2) Mol% 5 3 8 5 5 5 5
Crystal grain size nm 114 111 114 115 111 118 118
Three-point flexural strength MPa 801 928 600 742 652 720 692
Light transmittance (wavelength 700 nm, thickness 0.5 mm) % 46 38 51 42 41 46 46
Fraction of cubical crystal % 100 - 100 100 100 100 100
Fraction of monoclinic crystal after hot-water treatment % 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
(*1) Content relative to the mass of zirconia (the content is in terms of an oxide of metallic element)
(*2) Fraction of number of moles of yttria with respect to total number of moles of zirconia and yttria



Claims

1. A method for producing a zirconia particle- and fluorescent agent-containing powder, comprising: a mixing step of mixing a zirconia particle-containing slurry and a liquid-state fluorescent agent; and a drying step of drying the slurry containing the zirconia particles and the fluorescent agent.
 
2. The method according to claim 1, wherein the fluorescent agent comprises a metallic element, and the powder comprises the fluorescent agent in an amount of 0.001 to 1 mass% in terms of an oxide of the metallic element relative to a mass of zirconia.
 
3. The method according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the zirconia particles have an average primary particle diameter of 30 nm or less.
 
4. The method according to any one of claims 1 to 3, wherein the zirconia particles comprise 2.0 to 9.0 mol% yttria.
 
5. The method according to any one of claims 1 to 4, wherein the drying step is any one of spray drying, supercritical drying, and freeze drying.
 
6. A powder obtained by the method of any one of claims 1 to 5.
 
7. A powder comprising zirconia particles and a fluorescent agent, wherein the powder has a three-point flexural strength of 500 MPa or more after a zirconia shaped body formed by shaping the powder by uniaxial pressing and subsequently subjecting the powder to cold isostatic pressing (CIP) under a pressure of 170 MPa is sintered at 1,100°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure, and has a transmittance of 35% or more for light of 700 nm wavelength through a thickness of 0.5 mm after a zirconia shaped body formed by shaping the powder by uniaxial pressing and subsequently subjecting the powder to cold isostatic pressing (CIP) under a pressure of 170 MPa is sintered at 1,100°C for 2 hours under ordinary pressure.
 
8. A method for producing a zirconia shaped body, comprising a shaping step of shaping zirconia particles, wherein the method uses a powder obtained by the method of any one of claims 1 to 5, or the powder of claim 7.
 
9. The method according to claim 8, wherein the shaping step is a step of pressing the powder.
 
10. The method according to claim 8, wherein the shaping step is a step of shaping a composition comprising zirconia particles, a fluorescent agent, and a resin.
 
11. The method according to claim 10, wherein the composition is obtained by mixing the powder and a resin.
 
12. The method according to claim 8, wherein the shaping step is a step of polymerizing a composition comprising zirconia particles, a fluorescent agent, and a polymerizable monomer.
 
13. The method according to claim 12, wherein the composition is obtained by mixing the powder and a polymerizable monomer.
 
14. The method according to claim 12 or 13, wherein the shaping step is a stereolighography process.
 
15. A zirconia shaped body obtained by the method of any one of claims 8 to 14.
 
16. A method for producing a zirconia calcined body, comprising a step of calcining a zirconia shaped body obtained by the method of any one of claims 8 to 14.
 
17. The method according to claim 16, wherein the calcination is carried out between 300°C or more and less than 900°C.
 
18. A zirconia calcined body obtained by the method of claim 16 or 17.
 
19. A method for producing a zirconia sintered body, comprising a step of sintering a zirconia shaped body obtained by the method of any one of claims 8 to 14, under ordinary pressure.
 
20. The method according to claim 19, wherein the sintering is carried out between 900°C or more and 1,200°C or less.
 
21. A method for producing a zirconia sintered body, comprising a step of sintering a zirconia calcined body obtained by the method of claim 16 or 17, under ordinary pressure.
 
22. The method according to claim 21, wherein the sintering is carried out between 900°C or more and 1,200°C or less.
 
23. The method according to any one of claims 19 to 22, wherein the zirconia sintered body is a dental material.
 
24. A zirconia sintered body obtained by the method of any one of claims 19 to 23.
 











REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



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Patent documents cited in the description