Research Supervisor Connect

Studies in the biophysics of dentine and dental caries


Although dental caries remains the world's most common infectious disease, current concepts of caries pathogenesis are based on microscopic methods now many decades old. Treatment with fillings remains problematic, because current treatment approaches cannot adapt to the nuanced biophysical differences encountered in different parts of individual carious teeth. The effect of this, is that almost all fillings have some form of mechanical failure, and necessitate replacement with removal of ever more normal tooth structure. From this, there is need to improve understanding of the underlying biophysics and structure of teeth, and dental caries.


Professor Hans Zoellner.

Research location

Sydney Dental School

Program type



One aspect of this, is need to re-map the zonal structure of dental caries lesions, combining traditional light microscopy with tensiometry, AFM stiffness and adhesion mapping, and ramen spectroscopy. Related to this, are fundamental questions on dentine structure. Dentine forms the bulk of tooth structure, and becomes more brittle with age. We hypothesize this may be due to dehydration of collagen in dentine consequent to occlusion of dentinal tubules by peritubular dentine. We will test this idea by combined tensiometry, nano-probe hardness measurement, and mass spectrometry of extracted cross-linked collagen. A further aspect is application of finite element analysis to better understand the development and structure of carious lesions, as well as to improve treatment cavity design according to materials used. From the above, a rich PhD training can be had, in pursuit of projects investigating these questions.

Additional information

This broad project area entails several separate projects, any one of which could be pursued as a PhD or Masters. The project area seems especially suitable for students with a Biomedical engineering background or interest.Students interested in joining the team, would meet with Professor Zoellner to discuss their personal interests and proclivities, to select whichever aspect of the work is most suitable and of greatest interest for the individual student.

Want to find out more?

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 2796

Other opportunities with Professor Hans Zoellner